Skip to main content

Full text of "DTIC ADA172451: Strategic and Operational Implications of Iranian Military Operations in the Iran-Iraq War"

See other formats

AD-A172  451 

raWPgPWBIBWWWWTg  A1  V W.  P  Hgff  TTTT» WHi'inTPWW-wire 


A  thesis  presented  to  the  Faculty  of  the  U.S.  Army 
Command  and  General  Staff  College  in  partial 
fulfillment  of  the  requirements  for  the 




B.S.,  United  States  Military  Academy,  1974 
M.A. ,  Hofstra  University,  1980 




>  OCT  3  1986 



Fort  Leavenworth,  Kansas 



Approved  for  public  release!  distribution  is  unlimited. 





/J  o  ;  -v 






Approved  for  public  release;  distribution 
is  unlimited. 



U.S.  Army  Command  and  General  (if  applicable) 

Staff  College _ _  ATZL-SWD-GD 

6c  ADDRESS  (G ty,  State,  and  ZIP  Code)  T  7b  ADDRESS  (C/ty,  State,  and  ZIP  Code) 


Fort  Leavenworth,  KS  66027-6900  I 


8c  ADDRESS  (City,  State,  end  ZIP  Code) 

Of  applicable)  f 




11.  TITLE  Onclude  Security  Classification) 

Strategic  and  Operational  Implications  of  Iranian  Military  Operations  in  the  Iran-Iraq  War 




13b  TIME  COVERED  Il4  DATE  OF  REPORT  (Tear.  Month.  Day)  Il5  PAGE  COUNT 

from  8-1985  to6-1986  I  1986  June  6  I  105 


IT  _ COSATI  COOES  I  18.  SUBJECT  TERMS  (Continue  on  reverse  if  necessary  and  identify  by  block  number) 

group  |  sub-group  |Iran-Iraq  War,  Iranian  Army,  Iranian  Revolution,  operational 

Analysis,  Fighting  Power,  Persian  Gulf,  Shaw  of  Iran, 
von  Clausewitz,  \/an  Creveld,  Strategic  Analysis 

’9  ABSTRACT  ( Continue  on  reverse  if  necessary  and  identify  by  block  number) 

See  reverse  side. 





Unci assi fied 

22b  TELEPHONE  Onclude  Area  Code)  22c.  OFFICE  SYMBOL 

00  FORM  1473, 84  mar 

83  APR  edition  may  be  used  until  exhausted 
All  other  editions  are  obsolete 






The  progess  of  the  Iren- Iraq  War  has  surprised 
analysts.  In  order  of  gain  insight  into  events  in  the  region 
and  their  impl ications,  I  propose  an  analytical  framework 
using  Carl  Von  Clausewitz  and  Martin  Van  Creveld,  which  is 
used  to  analyze  the  military  worth  of  the  Islamic  Iranian 

The  thesis  has  three  logical  steps  leading  to  the 
eventual  conclusion.  First*  the  Imperial  Iranian  Armed 
Forces  were  fundamentally  flawed.  From  its  inception  under 
Reza  Shah*  the  people*  army*  government  trinity  had  fatal 
cracks  throughout.  Muhammed  Reza  Pahlavi*  attempting  to 
build  on  the  same  structure*  increased  the  pressure  on  the 
people*  army*  government  trinity*  resulting  in  a  collapse. 

The  weaknesses  of  this  trinity  was  demonstrated  by  the 
patent  inability  of  the  army  to  defeat  the  revolution  in 
spite*  or  even  because  of*  the  lavish  augmentation  of 

Second*  the  Islamic  Iranian  army  proved  to  have 
remarkable  power  and  resilience  in  the  Iran-Iraq  War. 
Surprised  by  a  powerful  invader*  hampered  by  desertion* 
eroding  equipment*  and  unreliable  logistics*  the  Iranian 
Armed  Forces  resisted  the  attack  and  went  on  the  offensive. 
Actions  were  character i zed  by  courage  and  fighting  power* 
excellent  staff  work*  and  operational  level  planning. 

Third*  the  change  in  the  Armed  Forces  was  causally 
linked  to  the  impact  of  the  Islamic  Revolution  on  the 
people*  army*  government  trinity.  The  strong  bond  between 
Khomeini  and  the  people*  and  the  new  army  legitimacy  and 
ethic*  had  a  multiplicative  effect  on  the  military 
capability  of  the  army.  The  result  was  an  army  with 
resilience*  flexibility*  and  potential  for  real  growth  in 
military  power. 

The  war*  paradoxically*  has  had  a  stabilizing  effect  on 
the  Persian  Gulf  Region.  The  region  now  has  a  viable 
collective  security  organization*  less  vulnerable  oil  lines 
of  communications*  and  is  carefully  watched  and  guarded  by 
the  U.S.  However*  the  war*  when  it  ends*  is  likely  to  have  a 
destabilizing  effect  on  Iran’s  neighbors.  Iran  has  the 
military  growth  potential  to  become  the  dominant  regional 
power  with  a  capability  to  challenge  the  Superpowers  for 
control  of  the  Persian  Gulf. 



A  thesis  presented  to  the  Faculty  of  the  U.S.  Army 
Command  and  General  Staff  College  in  partial 
fulfillment  of  the  requirements  for  the 




B.S.i  United  States  Military  Academy*  1974 
M.A. ,  Hofstra  University*  1980 


Fort  Leavenworth*  Kansas 

I);i5TKi:*U nor  UNLIMITED. 

Approved  for  public  release;  distribution  is  unlimited 


Approved  by : 

^  (.Utr-j  _ 

Geo rge?  w'  Gator yen,  Ph. D. 

,  Thesis  Committee  Chairman 

Bobby  I>J  Childress,  Ph.D. 

,  Member,  Graduate  Faculty 

Accepted  this  6th  day  of: June  1986  by: 

Philip  J.  Brookes,  Ph.D. 

_,  Director,  Graduate  Degree 

The  opinions  and  conclusions  expressed  herein  are  those 
of:  the  student  author  and  do  not  necessarily  represent 
the  views  of  the  U.S.  Army  Command  and  General  Staff: College 
or  any  other  government  agency.  (References  to  this  study 
should  include  the  foregoing  statement. ) 


OPERATIONS  IN  THE  IRAN-IRAQ  WAR:  An  analysis  of  the  modern 
Iranian  Army  from  Reza  Shah  to  the  Iran-Iraq  War.  Focus  is 
on  the  effect  of  the  revolution  on  the  Iranian  Army’s 
fighting  power*  by  Donald  H.  Zacherl,  USA,  106  pages. 

The  progess  of  the  Iran-Iraq  War  has  surprised 
analysts.  In  order  of  gain  insight  into  events  in  the  region 
and  their  implications,  I  propose  an  analytical  framework 
using  Carl  Von  Clausewitz  and  Martin  Van  Creveld,  which  is 
used  to  analyze  the  military  worth  of  the  Islamic  Iranian 

••-The  thesis  has  three  logical  steps  leading  to  the 
eventual  conclusion.  First,  the  Imperial  Iranian  Armed 
Forces  were  fundamentally  flawed.  From  its  inception  under 
Reza  Shah,  the  people,  army,  government  trinity  had  fatal 
cracks  throughout.  Muhammed  Reza  Pahlavi,  attempting  to 
build  on  the  same  structure,  increased  the  pressure  on  the 
people,  army,  government  trinity,  resulting  in  a  collapse. 
The  weaknesses  of  this  trinity  was  demonstrated  by  the 
patent  inability  of  the  army  to  defeat  the  revolution  in 
spite,  or  even  because  of,  the  lavish  augmentation  of 
equipment . 

Second,  the  Islamic  Iranian  army  proved  to  have 
remarkable  power  and  resilience  in  the  Iran-Iraq  War. 
Surprised  by  a  powerful  invader,  hampered  by  desertion, 
eroding  equipment,  and  unreliable  logistics,  the  Iranian 
Armed  Forces  resisted  the  attack  and  went  on  the  offensive. 
Actions  were  character i zed  by  courage  and  fighting  power, 
excellent  staff  work,  and  operational  level  planning. 

Third,  the  change  in  the  Armed  Forces  was  causally 
linked  to  the  impact  of  the  Islamic  Revolution  on  the 
people,  army,  government  trinity.  The  strong  bond  between 
Khomeini  and  the  people,  and  the  new  army  legitimacy  and 
ethic,  had  a  multiplicative  effect  on  the  military 
capability  of  the  army.  The  result  was  an  army  with 
resilience,  flexibility,  and  potential  for  real  growth  in 
military  power.—* 

The  war,  paradoxical ly ,  has  had  a  stabilizing  effect  on 
the  Persian  Gulf  Region.  The  region  now  has  a  viable 
collective  security  organization,  less  vulnerable  oil  lines 
of  communications,  and  is  carefully  watched  and  guarded  by 
the  U.S.  However,  the  war,  when  it  ends,  is  likely  to  have  a 
destabi 1 i zing  effect  on  Iran’s  neighbors.  Iran  has  the 
military  growth  potential  to  become  the  dominant  regional 
power  with  a  capability  to  challenge  the  Superpowers  for 
control  of  the  Persian  Gulf. 


As  with  most  research  topics?  this  one  evolved  from  a 
grander?  more  ^weeping  idea?  and  was  reduced  by  limitations 
in  time?  resources?  and  by  simple  common  sense.  I  owe  a 
great  deal  to  Dr.  Gawrych?  of  the  Combat  Studies  Institute? 
who  constantly  encourged  me?  patiently  corrected  my  repeated 
errors?  and  helped  me  maintain  my  perspective.  I  also  owe  a 
debt  of  gratitude  to  Dr.  Childress?  of  the  Department  of 
Joint  and  Combined  Operations?  who  sifted  out  my 
met hodolog i cal  errors?  and  pressed  me  to  defend  each  logical 
step.  Without  their  efforts  and  en  couragement?  the  thesis 
would  have  been  a  different?  and  far  poorer?  product. 

I  also  would  like  to  acknowledge  the  help  of  two  other 
scholars:  Carl  Von  Clausewitz  and  Martin  Van  Creveld.  My 
research  and  analysis  did  not  coalesce  until  I  read?  and 
then  re-read?  their  writings.  To  the  extent  I  have 
adequately  applied  Clausewitz  and  adapted  Van  Creveld?  a 
more  complete  under  standi ng  of  contemporary  events  in  Iran 
is  possible. 

Finally?  but  most  importantly?  I  owe  a  great  and 
continuing  debt  to  my  wife?  Marianne?  who  made  it  possible 
for  me  to  have  the  time  to  work. 

Any  errors  in  the  thesis  are  entirely  my  own. 

VK  V%  i.~m  i-*»  *  - 



Chapter  One  Thesis  Intent*  Analytical  Framework ,  Chapter 
Organisation*  and  Significance .  1 

Chapter  Tuio  The  Evolution  of  the  Iranian  Army  from 

Re~a  Shah  to  the  Islamic  Revolution .  14 

Chapter  Three  The  Post-revolut ionary  Army  and 

the  Iran-Iraq  War.. .  33 

Chapter  Four  The  Effect  of  the  Islamic  Revolution 

on  the  Iranian  Army.  . . .  65 

Chapter  Five  Conclusions  and  Analysis .  86 

Maps .  96 

Selected  Bibliography . 100 

Distribution .  105 






By  Donald  H.  Zacherl,  MAJ,  USA 

Chapter  One 

Thesis  Intent,  Analytical  Framework, 
Chapter  Organization, 
and  Significance 

"War  is  more  than  a  true  chameleon  that  slightly  adapts 
its  characteristics  to  the  given  case.  As  a  total  phenomenon 
its  dominant  tendencies  always  make  war  a  paradoxical 
trinity — composed  of  primordial  violence,  hatred  and  enmity, 
which  are  to  be  regarded  as  blind  natural  force;  of  the  play 
of  chance  and  probability  within  which  the  creative  spirit 
is  free  to  roam;  and  of  its  element  of  subordinat ion,  as  an 
instrument  of  policy,  which  makes  it  subject  to  reason 

•cesr.i  -xi  . 


Carl  Von  Clausewitz 

I  intend  to  show  that  Iranian  army’s  Military  Worth  was 
significantly  changed  by  the  Islamic  revolution.  The  nature 
of  this  change,  I  suggest,  was  a  fundamental  realignment  of 
the  three  elements  of  war:  the  people,  the  army,  and  the 
government.  As  a  result,  the  military  balance  of  power  has 
radically  altered  with  significant  effect  on  the  strategic 
situation  in  the  Persian  Gulf  region. 

The  thesis  has  four  steps.  The  first  step  will  show 
that  the  Military  Worth,  as  defined  by  Martin  Van  Creveld, 
of  the  pre-revolutionary  army  was  weaker  than  it  appea>  ed 
because  of  the  weak  linkage  between  the  three  fundamental 
elements.  The  second  step  analyzes  the  performance  of  the 
Iranian  army  in  the  Iran-Iraq  War,  demonstrat i ng  its  high 
level  of  military  performance.  The  third  step  identifies  the 
Islamic  revolution  _vs  the  proximate  cause  of  the 
strengthened  people-army-government  linkage.  The  fourth  step 
will  speculate  on  the  strategic  and  operational  implications 
for  the  use  of  landpower  in  the  region. 

II.  Analytical  Framework. 

It  was  necessary  to  adopt  a  new  analytical  framework 
for  two  reasons.  First,  military  events  in  Iran  were,  and 
are,  unpredictable.*  At  the  time  of  the  Revolution,  for 
example,  the  Imperial  Iranian  Armed  Forces  were  fifth 

largest  in  the  world  and  largest  in  the  region. ^  A  military 
modern i zat ion  program  continued  up  to  the  Shah’s  departure, 
and  included  12  billion  dollars  in  purchases  from  the  United 
States  alone. ^  Neither  was  the  Shah’s  army  inexperienced  in 
internal  control  operations.  In  fact,  it  was  its  primary 


use.  Yet,  outside  observers,  counting  the  size  and  quality 
of  the  military  equipment  in  the  Iranian  army,  were 
surprized  by  its  failure  to  successfully  oppose  the 

The  perseverence  of  the  Iranian  armed  forces  in  the 
Iran-Iraq  War  was  equally  unexpected.  Analysts,  in  and 
outside  the  region,  including  Saddam  Hussein,  were 
unpleasantly  surprized  by  Iran’s  resistance  to  the  invasion 
and  its  subsequent  successes  on  the  battlefield.  So 
confident  was  Saddam  Hussein,  in  fact,  that  he  was  on  the 
verge  of  announcing  the  annexation  of  Khuzestan  shortly 
after  the  invasion  began. ^  The  shock  of  the  successful 
Iranian  counteroffensive  in  1982  caused  a  major  strategic 
shift  by  the  Gulf  Cooperation  Council  from  supporting  Iraq 
to  pressing  for  a  ceasefire.^5  Most  recently,  the  renewed 
Iranian  offensive  once  again  caught  the  world  by  surprize. 

Up  until  the  recent  large  scale  attacks,  it  was  assumed  that 
Iran  was  too  exhausted  to  carry  on  the  war.  1 

Secondly,  the  Islamic  Revolution  in  Iran  was  a  profound 
and  genuinely  unique  political,  social,  and  religious  event 
which  may  prove  to  be  on  the  same  scale  and  importance  as 


the  French  and  Russian  Revolutions.  Previous  analytical 

frameworks  have  not  addressed  the  combined  effect  on  the 

people,  army,  government  linkage. 

The  analytical  framework  adopted  is  a  combination  of 

two  related,  and  simple,  paradigms:  Carl  Von  Clausewitz’s 

model  of  the  nature  of  war  and  Martin  Van  Creveld’s 

formulation  of  Military  Worth.  Although  each  framework  is 


simple,  sometimes  "the  simple  things  are  difficult". 

A  clear  understand! ng  of  the  linkage  between  them  is 
vital.  I  will  clarify  the  relationship  by  first  explaining 
Van  Creveld’s  formulation,  then  Von  Clausewitz’s  model,  and 
finally  the  way  I  have  linked  them  in  the  thesis. 

Van  Creveld  defines  the  Military  Worth  (Wm)  of  an  army 
as  equal  to  the  Quality  <Q1>  and  Quantity  <Q2)  of  is 
equipment  mulitplied  by  its  Fighting  Power  (Pf).1®  I  have 
expressed  this  as  follows: 

Wm  =  <Q1  +  Q2)Pf 

The  Quality  and  Guanity  of  equipment  are  additive:  both  the 
number  of  tanks  and  their  excellence  as  tanks  are  vital. 

Put  another  way,  a  smaller  number  of  excellent  American 
tanks  are  often  equated  to  larger  numbers  of  poorer  quality 
Soviet  tanks.  These  two  factors  are  measurable,  and  armies 
spend  enormous  resources  and  effort  measuring  the  size  and 
quality  of  opposing  forces  military  equipment. 

Fighting  Power  is  defined  as  "the  sum  total  of  the 
mental  qualities  that  make  an  army  fight".**  It  manifests  it 
self  in  discipline,  cohesion,  morale,  initiative,  courage, 
toughness,  and  the  willingness  to  fight  and  die.  ^  Fighting 
Power  is  multiplicative  and  has  greater  immediate  effect 
than  the  Quality  and  Quantity  of  equipment.  However,  a  very 
high  level  of  Fighting  Power  can  not  overcome  very  low 
levels  of  poor  equipment.  If  either  set  of  components  are 
reduced  to  near  zero,  the  Military  Worth  is  near  zero, 
regardless  of  the  elements  when  separately  valued. 

Fighting  power  is  more  difficult  to  measure  than  the 
Quality  and  Quantity  of  equipment.  Detailed  objective  data 
on  the  Iranian  army’s  discipline,  cohesion,  and  morale,  is 
virtually  impossible  to  obtain  and  what  little  exists  is  of 
limited  value  in  any  case.  However,  Van  Creveld  provides  an 
insight  into  the  secret  of  Fighting  Power.  The  secret  of 
Fighting  Power  lies  in  the  relationship  between  the  armed 
forces  and  society,  the  powerful  influence  of  religious  and 
ideological  beliefs,  and  primary  group  cohesion."'^  Von 
Clausewitz’s  model  of  the  nature  of  war  will  provide  the 
tool  to  unlock  this  secret. 

Clausewitz  reduces  the  nature  of  war  to  "a  remarkable 
trinity"!  animus,  estimates,  and  political  objectives. 
Animus,  which  mainly  concerns  the  people,  is  blind,  violent 
hatred  as  a  natural  force.  Estimates,  which  are  the  province 
of  the  commander  and  his  army,  is  the  play  of  chance  and 

probability.  Political  objectives,  uihich  is  the  concern  of 
the  government  alone,  is  the  realm  of  reason  and  policy.  War 
exists  in  a  balance  between  these  three  tendencies,  “like  an 
object  suspended  bewteen  three  magnets" . ^ 

“These  three  tendencies  are  like  three  different  codes  of 
law,  deep  rooted  in  their  subject  and  yet  variable  in  their 
relationship  to  one  another."*^ 


Van  Creveld’s  secret  of  Fighting  Power;  resting  on  the 
relat ionshi p  between  the  armed  forces,  society,  and  personal 
beliefs,  echoes  the  relationsh i p  in  Von  Clausewitz’s 
remarkable  trinity.  By  examining  the  Iranian  people,  army 
and  Government,  (the  Clausewi tzean  elements),  I  can 
determine  the  nature  of  Iranian  Fighting  Power, (in  Van 
Creveld’s  formulation).  Applying  Fighting  Power  to  the 
Quality  and  Quantity  of  equipment,  I  can  then  estimate  the 
Iranian  army’s  Military  Worth.  An  accurate  estimate  of  the 
Iranian  army’s  Military  Worth  allows  more  accurate  analysis 
of  the  implications  for  the  region. 

III.  Organi zat ion. 

Chapter  one,  which  is  the  current  chapter,  addresses 
the  thesis  intent,  analytical  framework,  organ i zat i on ,  and 

signi f i cance. 

The  purpose  of  Chapter  two  is  to  examine  the 
Pre-revolutionary  Iranian  army  using  the  methodology 
outlined.  Chapter  tu»o  sets  the  historical  background  of  the 
Pre-revolutionary  army  beginning  with  its  birth  under  Reza 
Shah  and  its  development  under  his  son,  Mo h hammed  Reza  Shah. 
It  concludes  with  an  analysis  of  the  pre-revolut ionary 
army’s  Military  Worth;  the  quality  and  quanitity  of 
equipment  and  an  estimate  of  its  fignting  power  based  on  an 
analysis  of  the  people,  army,  government  rel at ionsh i p. 

Chapter  three  examines  the  military  performance  of  the 
Iranian  army  during  the  Iran-Iraq  war.  Chapter  three  shows 
that  the  Iranian  army’s  Military  Worth  significantly 
improved  despite  a  steady  deter iorat ion  in  the  Quality  and 
Quantity  of  equipment;  the  inescapable  conclusion  is  the 
Fighting  Power  has  significantly  improved. 

If  the  Iranian  army’s  Military  Worth  has  improved  as  a 
result  of  a  significantly  improved  Fighting  Power,  what  was 
the  cause?  Chapter  four  examines  the  army  from  the  time  of 
the  Revolution  up  to  the  Iraqi  invasion  to  determine  if  the 
bond  between  the  people,  the  army,  and  the  State,  changed  in 
such  a  way  that  Fighting  Power  was  enhanced. 

Chapter  five  sumarizes  the  thesis  conclusions  and 
speculates  on  the  strategic  use  of  landpower  in  the  region. 

IV.  Significance 

There  are  four  primary  reasons  for  the  significance  of 
the  region  and  hence  the  thesis!  oil,  geopolitical  position, 
superpower  interest,  and  the  war  itself  <both  in  respect  to 
the  other  three  factors  and  for  purely  professional  and 
intellectual  reasons). 

The  importance  of  oil  and  the  Persian  Gulf  does  not 
appear  to  require  strenous  justification.  The  majority  of 
the  region’s  petroleum  exports  still  exit  through  the  Gulf, 
although  this  has  diminished  as  a  result  of  the  war.  Never- 
the-less,  58V  of  the  world’s  known  oil  reserves  are  in  the 
Gulf  Region.  Of  that,  \6'/.  are  in  Iran,  as  well  as  20*/.  of  the 
world’s  known  natural  gas  reserves.  Approximately  one  third 
of  the  world’s  petroleum  production  and  30V.  of  the  US 
petroleum  imports  are  from  the  Gulf  region.  Europe  and  Japan 
import  70V  of  their  petroleum  products  from  the  Gulf.16 
Although  considerable  effort  by  petroleum  importers  has  gone 
into  reducing  their  dependence  on  the  region,  the  long  term 
importance  of  the  region  is  clear. 

Oil  is  even  more  important  to  the  Gulf  exporters. 
Greater  that  82V  of  the  GNP  of  the  Gulf  states  is  made  up  of 
oil  revenues.1^,  although  oil  revenues  made  up  only  22V  of 
Iran’s  GNP  before  the  war.  As  result,  Iran  may  be  less 
concerned  over  oil  revenue  and,  therefore,  Gulf  stability 

than  her  neighbours. 

Iran’s  geopolitical  position  justifies  its 

significance,  even  without  the  importance  of  oil.  Iran  sits 

at  the  conjunction  of  the  Asian  and  Arab  world  and  is 

athwart  vital  petroleum  trade  routes.  A  500  mile  radius  of 

her  borders,  reachable  by  modern  combat  aircraft,  includes 

virtually  all  of  the  Caspian  Sea,  the  Persian  gulf,  Oman, 

Kuwait,  the  smaller  Gulf  states,  and  Saudi  Arabia’s  oil 

1 8 

fields  and  ports.  In  addition,  Iran  borders  on  Iraq, 

Turkey,  Russia,  Afghanistan,  and  Pakistan  and  controls  the 

Persian  Gulf  islands  astride  the  traffic  lanes  for  oil 

tankers.  Should  Iran  achieve  sufficient  military  power  and 

motive,  it  impact  would  be  enormous. 

Terrain  and  the  presence  of  resources  are  not  relevant 

unless  the  policies  of  the  powers  in  the  region  are  taken 

into  acount.  The  region  is  of  particular  and  acute  interest 

to  both  the  superpowers.  Iran  in  high  among  Soviet 

extranational  priorities  and  is  an  area  of  historical 

1 9 

Russian  strategic  interest.  Premier  Brezhnev  listed  the 

Persian  Gulf  as  among  the  Soviet  Uniona  two  highest 

extranational  pr  ior  i  t  ies.  The  Soviet  Union  has  had,  since 

1921m  a  "treaty  of  friendship"  which  requires  Iran  to 

prevent  "anti-soviet"  activities  in  Iran  in  exchange  for  a 


promise  of  non-intervention.  The  USSR  has  supported 
separatist  movements  in  Iran,  is  involved  in  the  Tudeh 
(Masses)  party.  Additionally,  the  Soviet  Union  recently 

began  a  program  designed  to  increse  her  power  projection 


into  the  region. 

Additionally)  Iran  is  specifically  covered  by  the 
Carter  doctrine)  which  established  the  region  as  an  area  of 
vital  US  interests.  It  is  an  area  of  specific  contingency 
operations  by  USCENTCOM  US  Central  Command)  and  USREDCOM  (US 
Readiness  Command).  The  US  has  responded  to  threats  to  close 

the  Gulf  by  military  rei nf or cement  and  a  promise  to  keep  the 


Gulf  open  and  free  to  traffic. 

Finally)  the  current  government  in  Iran  is  largely 
unaffected  by  attempts  to  modify  its  foreign  policy.  Its 
open  hostility  to  the  "Great  Satan"  (the  US))  and  the 
"Lesser  Satan"  (the  USSR))  has  meant  that  it  owes  no 
allegiance  to  either  Superpower.  Further)  its  position  as  an 
energy  supplier  gives  it  more  economic  flexibility  than  its 
neighbours  and  allows  it  relative  economic  independence.  It 
support  of  terrorism  and  refusal  to  act  in  concert  with 
other  regional  nations  has  further  isolated  it  politically. 
In  sum)  its  foreign  policy)  regionally  and  globally)  is 
relatively  encumbered  and  unpredictable. 

The  danger  is  that  the  Persian  Gulf  Region)  which  is 
vital  to  both  the  Superpowers)  is  in  danger  of  domination  by 
a  hostile  nation  that  is  largely  beyond  their  influence. 

The  war  itself  is  significant  for  policy  and 
professional  reasons.  First)  the  strong  Iranian  resistence 
and  subsequent  stunning  successes  were  completely 

unexpected,  as  was  earlier  related.  Additionally,  the 
tactical,  operational,  and  strategic  aspects  are  not  well 
known  or  understood.  Until  Iranian  military  power  and  the 
Iran-Iraq  war  is  more  adequately  understood,  reliable 
estimates  are  unachievable.  As  a  result,  policy  regarding 
Iran  is  likely  to  be  ineffective. 

Second,  the  war  is,  or  ought  to  be,  of  intense 
professional  interest.  It  is  a  major,  modern,  sustained  mid 
to  high  intensity  conflict  which  has  included  repetitive, 
sequential,  multi-division  operations,  and  tactical 
innovation.  It  included  the  heavy  use  of  chemical  weapons 
and  strategic  rockets,  and  conventional  strikes  on  nuclear 
targets.  Further,  the  lessons  of  the  war  are  untainted  by 
Superpower  logistical  sponsership,  unlike  the  Arab-Israeli 
Wars,  and  is  a  better  harbinger  of  future  conflicts  of  this 
type.  Additionally,  it  allows  an  insight  into  the  Iranian 
and  Islamic  military  tradition,  the  Islamic  revolution  and 
the  Iranian  military  leader. 

Given  Iran’s  potential  as  an  aggressive,  militant,  and 
well  resourced  force,  a  real  understanding  of  the  war  is 
essential.  A  new  army,  and  a  new  leadership,  born  in 
revolution,  fired  by  religious  zeal,  and  tempered  by  war,  is 
arising.  The  forces  that  have  shaped  and  are  shaping  this 
potential  military  power  in  one  of  the  most  volatile  and 
vital  areas  of  Superpower  interest  are  of  global 



1.  Robert  G.  Neumann,  Foreward  to  Iran-Iraq  War! 
Islam  Embattled,  by  Stephen  R.  Grummon,  (Washington,  D.C.  : 
Praeger  Publishers,  19S2),  p.  viii. 

2.  Nader  Entessar,  "Military  and  Politics  in  the 
Islamic  Republic  of  Iran,"  (Spring  Hill  College,  Department  of 
Political  Science,  Mobile,  Alabama,  1985),  p.  2. (  Paper 
prepared  for  19th  Annual  Meeting  of  the  Middle  East  Studies 
Association,  November,  1985.) 

3.  John  M.  Smith,  "Where  was  the  Shah’s  Army?,"  (Ft. 
Leavenworth,  Kansas,  1980),  p.  2.  (Master  of  Military  Art  and 
Science  Thesis,  PO  Registr  N19052. 421-31 ) 

4.  Richard  F.  Nyrop,  ed. ,  Irani  A  Country  Study,  DA 
Pam  550-68,  (Washington,  D.C.:  U.S.  Government  Printing 
Office,  1978),  p.  398. 

5.  Anthony  H.  Cor desman,  The  Gulf  and  the  Search  for 
Strategic  Stability:  Saudi  Arabia,  the  Military  Balance  in  the 

and  Trends  in  the  Arab-Israeli  Military  Balance 

(Boulder,  Colorado:  Westview  Press,  1984),  p.  648. 

Ibid.  , 


7.  Barry  Rubin,  "Middle  East:  Search  for  Peace," 
Foreign  Affairs?  America  and  the  World,  (Location:  Publisher 
1986),  p.  599. 

8.  George  W.  Gawrych,  "The  Iranian  Revolution", 
Lecture  Presented  to  US  Army  Command  and  General  Staff 
College  as  part  of  Individual  Development  Course  Mi  1 i tary 
History  of  the  Middle  East,  February,  1986. 

9.  Carl  Von  Clausewitr,  On  War,  trans.  and  ed.  by 
Michael  Howard  and  Peter  Paret,  (Princeton,  New  Jersey: 
Princeton  University  Press,  1984),  p.  119. 

10.  Martin  Van  Creveld,  Fighting  Power?  German 
Military  Performance,  1914-1945,  (Carlisle  Barracks, 

Pennsy lvannia?  Art  of  War  Colloqium  Publication,  1983),  pp. 

11.  Ibid. 

12.  Ibid. 

13.  Ibid., 

pp.  1-2. 

14.  Cl  auseuii  tz  .  ,  On  War  i  p.  89. 

15.  Ibid. 

16.  "Jeers  for  Cheap  Oil,"  The  Economist,  March? 
1986?  p.  66. 

17.  Anthony  H.  Cordesman?"  The  Gulf  and  the  Search 
for  Strategic  Stability?  p.  42. 

18.  CIA  Map  503828  12-78?  Iran?  Central  Intelligence 
Agency?  December?  1978. 

19.  John  C.  Campbell.  "Soviet  Strategy  in  the  Middle 
East?"  Amer i can-Arab  Affairs?  Spring?  1984?  pp.  74-82. 

20.  Joint  Special  Operations  Agency  lecture  given  at 
US  Command  and  General  Staff  College?  Feburary?  1986. 

21.  Richard  F.  Nyrop?  ed. ?  Irani  A  Study?  p.  52. 

22.  Anthony  H.  Cordesman?"  The  Gulf  and  the  Search 
for  Strategic  Stability?  p.  58. 

The  Evolution  of  the  Modern  Iranian  Army 
from  Resa  Shah  to  the  Islamic  Revolution 

"The  first  of  these  three  aspects  mainly  concern  the 
people?  the  second  the  commander  and  his  army;  the  third  the 
government. .. These  three  tendencies  are  like  three  different 
codes  of  lawi  deep  rooted  in  their  subject  and  yet  variable 
in  their  relationship  to  one  another.  A  theory  that  ignores 
any  one  of  them  or  seeks  to  fix  an  arbitrary  relationship 
between  them  would  conflict  with  reality  to  such  an  extent 
that  for  this  reason  alone  it  would  be  totally  useless." 

Carl  Von  Clausewitc. 

The  relationship  between  the  people,  the  army  and  the 
government,  is  complex  and  changeable.  To  gain  insight  into 
the  evolution  of  the  modern  Iranian  army  and  its  Fighting 
Power,  I  will  trace  the  three  Clausewi tzean  elements  from 
Reza  Khan,  through  his  son  Reza  Mu hammed  Pahlavi,  up  to  the 
Islamic  revolution.  This  is  done  by  dividing  the  pre¬ 
revolutionary  period  into  two  parts  corresponding  to  the 
Pahlavi  Shahs. 

Foundations  of  the  Imperial  Iranian  Army. 

Reza  Khan,  later  Reza  Shah,  was  a  semiliterate  soldier 
who  came  to  power  through  the  army .  His  accomplishments  were 
consi derable.  He  built  a  national  standing  army  virtually 
from  scratch,  introduced  social  change,  expanded  civil  law, 
and  promoted  education,  industr i a  1 i zat ion ,  and  nationalism. 
The  army  which  he  built  was  the  mainstay  of  his  power.  It 
became  his  personal  instrument  and  was  used  against  his 
opponents,  including  the  Islamic  clergy  and  the  people  when 
recal citrant . 

However,  in  spite  of  remarkable  improvements  in  the 
army’s  size  and  organization,  it  collapsed  in  1941  when 
first  seriously  challenged  by  a  comaparative  force.  So  rapid 
and  complete  was  its  capitulation  that  Field  Marshall  Sir 
William  Slim  described  it  as  "opera  bouffe".* 

Before  World  War  It  Iran  had  no  national  standing  army. 
Three  native  armies,  officered  by  foreigners,  policed  the 
country  and  acted  in  defense  of  the  foreign  interests  in 
Iran.  These  were  the  Cossack  brigade,  lead  by  Czarist 
Russian  Officers,  the  South  Persia  rifles,  lead  by  British 
officers,  and  the  Gendarmerie,  a  national  police,  lead  by 
Swedish  officers. 

The  Bolshevik  revolution  upset  the  Russian-Br i t ish 
balance  in  Iran,  as  well  as  caused  the  wi<Thdrawl  of  the 
Russian  officers.  This  departure  gave  Reza  Khan,  who  was  an 
officer  in  the  Cossack  Brigade,  to  assume  Command  of  the 
brigade  which  was  garrisoned  around  Teheran.  The  Persian 
<3ajar  regime,  in  an  attempt  balance  the  unmatched  Pritsh 
power,  appealed  to  the  new  Soviet  Union  for  support.  In 
1921,  in  the  midst  of  negotiation  over  the  "Treaty  of 
Friendship",  a  revolution,  supported  by  Peza  Khan  and  the 
Cossack  Brigade,  seized  power.  (The  1921  Treaty  of 
Friendship  is  often  cited  by  the  Soviet  Union  as  legitmizing 
its  interest  in  the  internal  events  in  Iran.  No  modern 
Iranian  government  recognizee  it,  which  is  natural 
considering  the  circumstances  described). 

Reza  Khan,  who  was  made  minister  of  war,  proved 
resourceful  and  effective.  He  moved  to  form  a  single 
national  army  by  unifying  the  separate  forces;  it  was  the 
first  single  army  in  Iran’s  long  history.  He  purged 
foreigners  and  reduced  foreign  influence  in  army 

organization?  culture  and  language  with  an  uncompromising 
zeal . 

However?  in  spite  of  his  promotion  of  nationalist 
causes  in  every  aspect  of  Iranian  life?  he  valued  the 
knowledge  of  the  west  and  educated  his  son  and  his  best 
officers  abroad.  In  1925?  he  persuaded  the  Majlis?  the 
Iranain  parliament?  to  introduce  universal  conscription.  The 
Same  year  he  was  proclaimed  Shah. 

Over  the  next  fifteen  years?  officers  loyal  to  him  were 
placed  in  influential  government  positions.  During  the  same 


period  the  army  was  expanded  from  40,000  to  125? 000. ~  It 
became  highly  centralized  under  the  direct  control  of  the 
Shah  as  the  Commander  in  Chief.  Promotion,  education,  and 
perquisites  were  based  on  the  Shah’s  evaluation  of  the 
officer’s  personal  loyalty.  Disloyalty  was  harshly 
punished. ^ 

Initially?  conservative  elements  of  the  Majlis  and 
religious  leaders  were  allied  with  his  programs?  which  they 
correctly  interpreted  as  nationalistic  and  opposed  to 
foreign  influence.  However?  not  all  of  the  regimes  reforms 
were  well  received.  Many  of  Reza  Shah’s  nationalist  goals 
were  at  odds  with  the  Islamic  clergy.  With  the  introduction 
of  a  codified  judicial  system,  the  clergy  lost  its  authority 


over  civil  law  and  religious  trust  funds.  Marriage  and 
divorce  civil  codes  represented  attempts  to  reduce  clerical 
power?  as  did  active  programs  to  promote  western  dress  and 

restrictions  on  wearing  clerical  garb.  Religious  instruction 
was  placed  under  control  of  the  government  education  system. 
Wearing  of  a  veil  by  women  was  forbidden. 

Both  the  Re:a  Shah  and  the  Islamic  clergy  intended  to 
influence  the  behavior  of  the  people.  The  clergy,  however, 
had  a  distinct  advantage  in  their  access  to  the  people. 
Frequent  attendance  at  services  assured  that  the  faithful 
heard  the  clerical  viewpoint  far  more  often  than  the 
government’s.  Believing  in  the  Koranic  i n ter pret a t i on  and 
administration  of  civil  law  by  Islamic  clergy,  the 
governments  credibility  in  the  eyes  of  the  people  was 
gradually  weakened,  as  was  the  people-government 
relat ionship.  Correspondingly,  the  linkage  between  the 
clergy  and  the  people  grew  stronger. 

Opposition  to  the  Shah  was  repressed  regardless  of  the 
source.  Increasingly  alarmed  by  the  Soviet  Union’s 
revolutionary  influence,  he  eventually  outlawed  the 
communist  party.  Rebellion,  whether  tribal,  political,  or 
religious,  was  harshly  repressed.  The  army,  ostensibly 
designed  to  defeat  foreign  aggression,  was  primarily  used  in 
an  internal  security  role,  further  weaking  the  people-army 
1 i nkage. 

The  army  that  Reza  Shah  developed  was  put  to  the  test 
in  1941  when  Iran  was  invaded  by  Britain  and  the  Soviet 
Union.  Pursuing  neutral lity  as  the  safest  course,  but 
accepting  German  technical  advisers,  Reca  Shah  would  not 

*.w  K 

allow  the  transport  of  allied  material  to  the  Soviet  Union 
to  cross  Iran.  As  Churchill  noted  in  description  of  this 
event,  "Inter  Arma,  silent  leges." — (between  Armies,  laws 
are  silent)^. 

The  British  attacked  on  the  25th  of  August  in  the  south 
from  the  Iraqi  city  of  Basra  with  one  division  to  capture 
Abadan  and  Khorramshahr ,  and  in  the  west  with  one  division 
from  Giasr-e-Shir in  toward  Kermanshah.  Although  one  brigade 
and  one  regiment  was  armored,  they  may  have  been  less 
effective  than  the  other  attacking  units,  since  they  were 
road  bound. 

The  objective  was  to  capture  the  Abadan  oil  fields, 
control  communications,  and  secure  a  route  to  the  Caspian 
sea.  This  plan  was  repeated  virtually  without  change  by  the 
Iraqi’s  almost  40  years  later.  The  Soviets,  fighting 
desperately  with  the  Nazi’s  on  their  west,  did  not  put  their 
best  troops  in  the  south  to  invade  Iran.  Never  the  less, 
they  entered  Azerbaijan,  intending  to  push  to  Teheran.  The 
total  invading  force,  British  and  Soviet,  was  not  more  than 
seven  division  equivalents;  five  Russian  and  two 
Anglo-Indian.  Iran  was  defended  by  five  divisions. 

Reza  Shah  was  clearly  depending  on  the  Military  Worth 
of  his  army  to  resist  the  Ang lo-Russian  invasion.  In  a 
speech  to  the  Majlis  concerning  possible  invasion  by  Russian 
and  British  forces,  he  stated  "Certainly  we  can  count  on  our 

disciplined  forces... 

In  addition,  he  ordered  the  press 

and  the  Government  propaganda  apparatus  to  concentrate  on 

informing  the  people  on  the  world  situation  and  the  need  for 
strength  and  resistance. 

Addi t i onal ly ,  he  refused  ample  opportunity  to  comply 
with  allied  demands  and  remained  incalcitrant,  preferring  to 
offer  battle  instead.  Defending  with  five  Iranian  divisions 
against  a  coalition  of  seven  Russian  and  Anglo-Indian 
divisions  is  perfectly  reasonable,  if  the  divisions  are  of 
comparable  Military  Worth.  Reza  Shah  clearly  thought  so, 
since  he  had  confidence  in  his  army,  which  he  had  expanded 
from  40,000  to  120,000,  and  had  used  it  successfully  as  his 
personal  instrument. 

There  is  no  evidence  to  suggest  that  Reza  Shah  thought 
Churchill  was  bluffing.7  Given  the  evident  British  and 
Russian  need,  commitment  and  capability,  it  would  have  been 
unreasonable  to  think  the  Anglo-Russian  ultimatum  was  a 
ruse.  However,  even  if  the  Reza  Shah  had  thought  so,  it 
could  not  have  been  his  intent  to  offer  no  resistance  should 
an  invasion  occur.  His  army  collapsed  on  contact  with  its 
enemy,  despite  Reza  Shah’s  twenty  year  effort  to  strengthen 
i  t . 

No  serious  resistance  was  encountered  and  conscripts 


deserted  in  the  thousands.  In  the  south,  one  infantry 

brigade  captured  Abadan,  while  "the  majority  of  Persian 


forces  escaped  in  lorries"  In  the  centra]  sector  new 
Kermanshah,  the  defenders  "abandoned  their  positions 


hastily*.  On  the  28th,  just  as  a  continued  attack  was  about 
to  be  launched,  the  Iranian  commander  surrendered.  The  total 
number  of  British  casualties  for  the  whole  operation  was  22 
killed  and  42  wounded.  *® 

There  was  no  popular  resistance,  in  spite  of  a  year 
long  program  by  Reza  Shah  to  impress  the  people  with  the 
need  to  resist  a  possible  invasion.**  Faced  with  the 
collapse  of  the  army,  the  complacency  of  the  people,  and  the 
lack  of  government  resolve,  Reza  Shah  ordered  a  ceasefire  on 
the  28th,  three  days  after  the  invasion  and  before  any  major 
battle  was  fought  or  offered  by  the  Iranians. 

Mohammed  Reza  Shah,  Reza  Shah’s  son,  provides  the  final 
evidence  regarding  the  poor  Military  Worth  of  1941  Iranian 
Army.  '...except  for  a  few  isolated  engagements,  the 
resistance  of  the  Iranian  armed  forces  was  completely 
ineffective."*^  The  Iranian  army  was  overwhelmed,  not 
because  of  inferior  numbers,  but  because  of  it  chose  not  to 
resist.  Even  if  totally  overmatched,  a  cohesive,  disciplined 
army  will  resist  violently,  and  many  times  successfully.  The 
Iranian  army,  in  spite  of  its  numerical  improvements,  was  of 
lower  Military  Worth  than  its  size  would  indicate.  Using  Van 
Creveld’s  formula,  this  can  only  occur  if  the  Fighting  Power 
is  low. 

Reza  Shah’s  army  was  of  low  Miltary  Worth  because  of 
its  low  Fighting  Power,  and  had  low  Fighting  Power  because 
of  an  imbalance  in  the  rel at i onsh i ps  among  the  elements  of 

Von  Clausewi tz ’ s  "remarkable  trinity".  The  army  had  a  weak 
relationship  with  the  Iranian  people  and  rigid  relationship 
with  the  government,  in  the  form  of  the  Reza  Shah  as  head  of 
state  and  despot.  The  people,  government  relationship  was  a 
reflection  the  people,  army  relat ionshi p,  already  described 
as  weak.  The  Fighting  Power  of  the  army  was  low  as  a  direct 
result  of  the  poorly  balanced  people,  army,  government 

British  forces  withdrew  on  the  iSth  of  October, 
although  Soviet  forces  remained  past  the  end  of  the  war. 

Reza  Shah  did  not  resist  British  demands  for  his  abdication, 
and  in  fact  preferred  it  to  "taking  orders  from  some  British 
Captain".  The  Majlis  appointed  his  son,  Reza  Muhammed 
Pahlavi,  the  new  Shah.  Reza  Shah  went  into  exile,  ultimately 
in  South  Africa.  The  new  Shah  very  young,  unprepared  to 
rule,  and  dependent  upon  his  advisors. ^ 

Reza  Shah  had  reasserted  Iran’s  intent  to  control  its 
own  destiny.  Author i tar i an  and  nationalistic,  he  expanded 
the  army  and  elevated  the  army’s  influence  to  the  point  that 
it  was  the  single  most  important  government  body.  He  unified 
and  expanded  the  army,  used  it  extensively  for  enforcing 
social  change,  and  elevated  the  wealth  and  social  status  of 
loyal  military  officers.  However,  he  neglected  the  primary 
relationships  between  Iran’s  people,  its  army,  and  its 
government.  The  result  was  an  army  of  low  Fighting  Power, 
and  questionable  Military  Worth.  How  the  new  Shah  would 

handle  the  imbalances  would  determine  the  future  of  Iranian 
army’s  Military  Worth*  and  ultimately  the  future  of  Iran. 

A  New  Shah*  An  Old  Pattern. 

Reza  Mohammed  Phalavi,  the  ShahanShah*  suddenly  and 
unexpectedly  occupied  the  Peacock  Throne  at  the  age  of 
twenty  two.  His  military  education  in  Iran  and  Switzerland 
was  that  of  an  imperial  officer  cadet,  and  has  father  had 
taken  great  care  to  instill  the  monarchy  in  royal  prince. 

His  father,  in  exile  in  South  Africa,  died  three  years 
after  his  abdication.  Muhammed  Reza  Pahlavi  had  to  depend  on 
the  advice  of  relatives,  allies  and  senior  military  and 
government  officials.  Power  became  more  defused  and  there 
was  competion  for  greater  shares  of  the  Imperial  power. 

The  Majlis,  fearing  that  the  new  Shah  would  use  the 
Armed  forces  to  enforce  a  despotsim  similiar  to  his 
father’s,  initially  gained  more  authority  over  the  Armed 
forces  through  its  control  of  the  military  budget.  A  general 
roll  back  of  Reza  Shah’s  reforms  occurred  in  other  areas, 
religious  and  tribal  leaders  reasserted  control,  more 
traditional  dress  and  language  reappeared,  as  well  as 
fascist,  communist,  religious  and  nationalist  political 
parties.  However,  it  was  the  challenge  of  another  would  be 
despot  that  was  to  shape  Shah  Pahlavi’ s  attitude  as  ruler; 
the  Prime  Minister,  Mohammed  Mossadeq. ^ 

Mossadeq  had  formed  a  coalition  of  nat iona 1 i st i c 
parties  of  every  stripe,  focusing  on  the  control  of  Iran’s 
oil.  He  was  initially  widely  popular  and  was  appointed  Prime 
Minster,  at  the  demand  of  the  Majlis,  in  1951.  As  the  oil 
crisis,  which  he  had  helped  to  precipitate,  worsened, 
Mossadeq  demanded  more  and  more  control.  He  eventually, 
consolidated  his  control  by  assuming  the  role  of  minister  of 
war,  and  though  challenged  by  the  Shah,  was  supported  in  the 
streets  by  radical  religious  clergy. 

Mossadeq  attempted  to  turn  the  army  into  his  political 
instrument,  as  had  Reza  Shah.  He  purged  the  army  of  officers 
loyal  to  the  Shah  and  promoted  those  loyal  to  him.  The 
dependability  of  these  officers,  however,  proved  unreliable. 

The  political  crisis  worsened  as  Mossadeq  lost  support 
and  more  directly  challenged  the  Shah,  eventually  deposing 
him.  In  1953,  in  a  short  four  day  period  during  which  the 
Shah  left  the  country,  Mossadeq  was  overthrown  in  a  coup  by 
army  officers  he  had  purged. 

The  challenge  posed  by  Mossadeq  was  a  formative  one  for 
the  Shah.  Where  the  Shah  had  reigned  before,  now  he  would 
rule. ^  This  was  especially  true  in  the  army,  which  Mossadeq 
had  tried  to  use  against  the  Shah,  but  had  ultimately  proved 
the  Shah’s  basis  of  power.  Clearly,  the  army  was  to  be  his 
mainstay.  However,  this  viewpoint  was  short  sighted,  and  the 
shism  between  the  people,  the  army,  and  the  government, 

evident  during  the  rule  of  his  father,  although  initially 

abatedm,  would  soon  resume  its  growth. 

The  Shah  began  by  purging  officers  affiliated  with  the 

communist  Tudeh  (Masses)  party  and  outlawed  the  party 

itself,  as  had  his  father.  He  took  steps  to  reduce  the  power 

of  the  Majlis  by  supervising  the  nomination  of  candidates 

and  elections.  He  created  several  internal  security 

organizations,  the  most  notorious  of  which  was  SAVAK 

(Sazman-i  Ittila’at  va  Amniyat-i  Keshvari  National 

,  7 

Intelligence  and  Security  Organ i zat ion ) 

SAVAK  was  closely  associated  with  the  military  and  was 

run  by  high  ranking  military  officers.  These  organ i zat ions 

were  arranged  in  a  bewildering  system  so  that  "everybody  was 

1 8 

watching  somebody  else".  As  an  example,  a  super  secret 

organization  entitled  the  Special  Intelligence  Bureau 

operated  out  of  the  Shah’s  palace  with  the  sole  aim  of 

working  independently  of  SAVAK,  presumably  to  act  as  the 

1 9 

Shah’s  watchdog  of  SAVAK  itself.  A  comprehensive  study  of 
these  organi zat ions  is  worthy  of  a  thesis  in  itself.  Suffice 
it  to  say,  that  they  were  an  outgrowth  of  the  Shah’s  concern 
for  internal  security  and  lack  of  trust. 

Another  feature  of  the  Shah’s  lack  of  trust  was  the 
control  of  his  military  organi zat ions .  The  General  Staff 
acted  as  a  planning  and  coordinating  agency,  but  not  as  a 
command  body.  Service  Chiefs  of  Staff,  major  subordinate 

commanders  and  security  organ i zat ions  were  encouraged  to 
report  directly  to  the  Shah. 

The  result?  in  terms  of  the  Clausewi tzean  trinity?  were 
potentially  catastroph i c.  A  vicious  cycle  of  brutal 
repression  and  resistance  further  separated  the  government? 
in  the  person  of  the  Shah?  from  the  people?  and  the  people 
from  the  army  as  the  tool  of  his  oppression.  The  Shah  put  a 
considerable  strain  on  the  people?  army?  government 
relationship  that  eventually  produced  a  major  revolution. 
However?  these  trends  are  not  a  complete  analysis  and 
Fighting  Power  of  the  Iranian  army  and  its  Military  Worth 
requires  a  more  detailed  analysis. 

1975  was  a  watershed  year  for  the  Iranian  army. 

National  wealth  suddenly  increased  as  result  of  a  sustained 
oil  revenue  windfalls?  and  the  military  budget  dramatically 
increased  correspondingly.  The  rapid  increase  in  the  Quality 
and  Quantity  of  equipment  provides  an  excellent  opportunity 
to  evaluate  the  Iranian  army  in  Van  Creveld’s  terms?  and 
will  provide  greater  insight  into  the  army’s  Fighting  Power. 

From  1973  to  1975  Iranian  Gross  National  Product  more 
than  doubled  as  a  result  of  increased  oil  revenues.  Defense 
expenditures  increased  more  than  fivefold  and  doubled  as  a 
percentage  of  the  GNP  in  the  same  period.  Most  of  the 
expenditures  were  on  equipment  and  modernization?  since 
manpower  remained  almost  constant.'4'*  The  sudden  influx  of 

equipment  was  impossible  to  absorb  without  waste  and 

turmoi 1 . 

In  addition,  the  rapid  modernization  brought  with  it  a 
growing  dependence  on  foreign  sources  for  war  materiel,  a 
critical  weakness  in  a  protracted  war.  Although  production 
of  small  arms  had  begun  and  plans  for  production  of  other 
types  of  equipment  were  laid  out,  at  the  time  of  the 
revolution,  Iran  was  still  almost  completely  dependent  on 
outside  sources  for  major  items  and  technical  expertise. 

This  was  further  complicated  by  a  deliberate  government 
decision  to  purchase  equipment  from  different  countries.  In 
some  cases,  the  tank  of  one  country  was  matched  with  the 
main  gun  of  another.  The  resulting  mix  of  weapons,  calibers, 
and  repair  items  to  support  them  was  a  logistical  nightmare. 

The  response,  a  computerized  logistical  system, 
exacerbated  the  problem  by  increasing  the  foreign 
dependence.  In  addition,  the  sophisticated  electronics  were 
even  more  likely  to  fail  and  less  likely  to  be  immediately 
or  locally  repairable. 

In  addition,  the  critical  shortage  of  trained  personnel 
throughout  the  country  was  eroding  army  morale  and  cohesion, 
vital  elements  of  Fighting  Power.  The  exploding  economy  had 
created  a  widespread  demand  for  all  technical  skills.  As  the 
growing  demand  forced  the  Civilian  wage  scales  up,  officers 
either  left  the  service,  or  began  to  chafe  under  the 

relatively  low  military  salaries. 

In  an  effort  to  meet  the  shortage*  a  new  military  class 

was  rapidly  expanded*  Warrant  Officers.  Critically  important 
to  the  modernizing  army,  they  were  promoted  on  the  basis  of 
their  badly  needed  skills  and  therefore  not  necessarily 
loyal  to  the  Shah.  As  the  army  came  to  depend  more  and  more 
on  these  technicians,  they  began  to  garner  an  importance  far 
beyond  their  rank  in  critical  technical  areas?  maintenance, 
computer i zat ion,  communcat i ons *  weaponry  and  intelligence. 

This  critical  group  was*  not  promoted  on  the  basis  of 
loyalty.  The  Shah*  who  reviewed  all  promotions  to  Major,  did 
gave  them  no  special  attention,  in  spite  of  their  critical 
importance  to  the  army.^  They  were  a  distinctly  new  feature 
in  the  Iranian  army  and  a  further  potential  f ragmentat ion ? 
officers  in  control  of  critcal  nodes  with  no  specific 
loyalty  to  the  Shah.^* 

The  loyalty  and  cohesion  of  the  bulk  of  the  enliste 
force  was  eroding  also.  Largely  short  term  conscripts, 
enlisted  soldiers  had  scant  affection  for  the  regime  to 
begin  with.-1""’  Poorly  treated  and  poorly  paid,  even  before 
the  sudden  increase  civilian  wages,  their  morale,  cohesion 
and  loyalty  suffered  even  more  than  the  officer  Corps. 

As  an  ironic  twist,  efforts  to  make  them  more  reliable 
in  an  internal  security  role  had  the  opposite  effect. 
Conscripts  were  routinely  stationed  in  areas  outside  their 
native  region.  This  was  thought  to  assure  their  loyalty  in 
the  event  of  a  local  insurrection.  However,  the  young 


soldier*  lonely  and  separated  from  his  family,  friends,  and 
community,  turned  to  the  local  mosque  as  the  only  area  he 
recognized  and  felt  comfortable  in."1"^  However,  as  the  clergy 
increasingly  opposed  the  Shah,  the  young  conscripted  soldier 
heard  an  ever  louder  and  more  insistent  beat  of  critcism  and 
condemnation  of  the  Shah’s  regime.  When  the  Revolution  came, 
many  enlisted  joined  in  the  revolt,  some  turning  on  their 


officers  and  killing  them.*"' 

Between  1975  and  the  revolution,  these  problems  grew 
more  pronounced.  In  spite  of  enormous  improvement  in  the 
Quality  and  Quantity  of  equipment,  it  could  not  resist  the 
revolution  when  it  came.  When  the  Shah’s  army  is  evaluated, 
it  becomes  clear  that  its  Military  Worth  was  lower  than  it 
appeared.  In  Van  Creveld’s  formulation,  this  can  only  occur 
when  the  Fighting  Power  is  very  low. 

The  people,  army,  government  linkage  was  so  weak  and  so 
imbalanced  that  violent,  total  revolution  occurred.  To  the 
extent  that  we  can  gain  insight  into  the  Fighting  Power  of 
an  army  by  analyzing  the  relationship  between  the  people, 
the  army,  and  the  government,  the  Fighting  Power  was  also 
very  low.  In  the  final  analysis,  the  army  did  not  only  not 
overcome  the  revolution,  but  participated  in  it.  The  final 
military  declaration  of  "non-interference"  marked  the  end  of 


the  Pahlavi  reign  and  begining  of  the  Islamic  Republic. ^ 
Under  different  circumstances,  could  the  Imperial 
Iranian  Ground  Forces  have  exhibited  greater  Military  Worth? 

Since  I  intend  to  compare  the  Military  Worth  of  the  Shah’s 
army  to  the  army  of  the  Islamic  Republic,  the  question  is  an 
important  one.  If  Iraq  had  invaded  before  the  revolution, 
would  the  Iranian  army  still  have  been  so  weak? 

The  question  is  unanswerable  in  any  meaningful  way.  The 
real  external  threats  did  not  have  this  effect.  If  one  had 
materialized,  the  shism  between  the  people,  the  army,  and 
the  government  would  be  as  serious  and  the  weaknesses  in 
military  cohesion,  morale,*  and  loyalty  would  have  also 
remained.  It  would  be  necessary  to  assume  away  the 
revolution  and  its  causes  before  we  again  have  an  Iranian 
army  of  respectable  Fighting  Power  and  Military  Worth.  This 
assumption  is  such  a  departure  from  reality  that  analysis 
becomes  speculative  guesswork  without  utility. 

Additionally,  such  a  proposal  begs  the  question.  In  the 
final  analysis  the  Military  Worth  of  the  army  was  so  low 
that  it  could  not  resist  the  revolution.  It  was  of  low 
Military  Worth  in  spite  of  recent  lavish  augmentations  in 
Quality  and  Quantity  of  equipment  and  because  of  poor 
Fighting  Power.  It  was  of  poor  Fighting  Power  as  a  result  of 
basic  weaknesses  in  the  people,  army,  government 
relationship  and  erosion  in  military  cohesion,  loyalty  and 

The  effect  of  the  revolution  on  the  Military  Worth  of 
the  Iranian  army  is  revealed  in  the  following  chapter  on  its 
performance  in  the  Iran-Iraq  war. 



1 . 

David  McKay, 

Sir  William  Slim,  Defeat  Into  Victory,  (New  York 
Inc. ,  1961 ) ,  p.  3. 

2.  Richard  F.  Nyrop,  ed. ,  Iran?  A  Country  Study,  p. 


3.  Ibid.,  p.  54. 

4.  Ibid. 

5.  Winston  Spencer  Churchill,  The  Second  World  War, 
Vol  III,  The  Grand  Alliance,  (Eoston:  Houghton  Mifflin  Co., 
1950),  pp.  482-483. 

6.  George  Lenczowski,  ed.  ,  Iran  under  the  Pahlavi’s 
(Stanford,  California:  Hoover  Institution  Press.,  1978),  p. 

7.  Winston  S.  Churchill,  The  Second  World  War,  p. 


8.  Richard  F.  Nyrop,  ed. ,  Iran:  A  Study,  p.  391 

9.  Winston  S.  Churchill,  The  Second  World  War,  p. 



Ibid.,  p.  483. 

1  1  . 

George  Lenczowski, 

Iran  Under 

the  Pahl avi ’ s,  p 


Country , 


( New 

Mohammed  Reza  Shah 
York:  Mcgraw  hill. 

Pah  1 avi ,  , 

,  1962),  p. 

Mission  for  My 


Richard  F.  Nyrop., 

ed. ,  Iran : 

A  Country  Study, 


14.  Ibid.,  p.  60. 

15.  Ibid. 

16.  Ibid.,  p.  62. 

17.  Ervand  Abrahamian,  Iran:  Between  Two  Revolutions 
(Princeton,  New  Jersey:  Princeton  University  Press,  1982),  pp 


The  Economist,  11  November,  1978., 

p.  13 


19.  Richard  F.  Myropi  ed.  ,  Iran:  A  Country  Study ,  p 

20.  Ibid.,  p.  401 . 

21.  Anthony  H.  Cor  desman, "  The  Gulf  and  the  Search 
for  Strategic  Stability,  p.  726. 


22.  Richard  F.  Nyrop,  ed. ,  Iran:  A  Country  Study,  p 

23.  Ibid.,  p.  401 . 

24.  Nikki  R.  Keddie,  Roots  of  Revolution:  An 
Interpretive  History  of  Modern  Iran,  (New  Haven,  Connecticut: 
Yale  University  Press),  p.  6. 


John  M. 

Smith,  "Where 


the  Shah’s 


?  " 


Nikki  R. 

Keddie,  Roots 


Revo lut i on , 




John.  M. 

Smith,  "Where 


the  Shah’s 


?  " 



Ibid.  , 

P.  90 

Chapter  Three 

The  Post-revolutionary  Army  in  the  Iran-Iraq  War 

"If  you  want  to  overcome  your  enemy  you  must  match  your 
effort  against  his  power  of  resistance,  which  can  be 
expressed  as  the  product  of  two  inseparable  factors,  viz, 
the  total  means  at  his  disposal,  and  the  strength  of  his 
will.  The  extent  of  the  means  at  his  disposal  is  a  matter, 
though  not  exclusively,  of  figures,  and  should  be 
measurable.  But  the  strength  of  his  will  is  much  less  easy 
to  determine  and  can  only  be  gauged  approximately  by  the 
strength  of  the  motive  animating  it." 

Carl  Von  Clausewit 


Chapter  three  is  subdivided  into  three  subsections;  a 

strategic  overview  of  the  conflict,  events,  and  factors 

leading  upto  the  war,  an  operational  level  analysis  of 

selected  Iranian  military  actions,  and  an  overview  and 

analysis  of  the  Iranian  army’s  performance. 

It  is  the  intent  of  Chapter  three  to  show  that  the 

performance  of  the  Iranian  army  in  the  Iran-Iraq  war 

indicates  that  it  is  an  army  of  considerable  Military  Worth 

inspite  of  low  levels  of  the  Quality  and  Quantity  of 

equipment  but  because  of  considerable  Fighting  Power.  If 

this  is  so,  it  strongly  implies  that  the  Revolution  was  the 

proximate  cause  for  the  change  in  Fighting  Power.  It  then 

becomes  the  purpose  of  Chapter  four  to  analyze  the 

Revolution  and  to  determine  the  effect  on  the  army. 

The  Iraqi  decision  to  go  to  war  was  based  on  the 

intent  to  take  advantage  of  the  apparently  unsteady 

government  in  Iran,  gain  control  of  the  Shatt  al  Arab  water 

way  (controlled  by  Iran,  and  Iraq’s  strategic  link  to  the 

Persian  Gulf),  assert  its  dominance  in  the  region,  and 

perhaps  annex  the  ethnically  Arab;  oil  rich  Khuzestan 

province.  She  also  expected  that  the  operation  would 

destabilize  the  reactionary  Islamic  republic  and  put  an 

early  end  to  the  threat  of  Islamic  f undamenta 1 i st  revolution 

throughout  the  Moslem  world.  To  help  carry  out  its  initial 

military  operations,  Iraq  elicited  considerable  direct  and 

monetary  support  from  the  Persian  Gulf  and  other  Arab 
nations  because,  she  pointed  out  with  regularity,  she  fought 
an  enemy  that  threatened  them  all.  Although  no  direct 
evidence  exists  that  Iraq  was  encouraged  in  its  adventurism 
or  sought  advice  in  this  regard,  it  is  clear  that  they 
condoned  the  action. - 

Iraq  had  another  clear  intent  which  can  only  be  termed 
an  overdevelopment  of  its  sense  of  its  rightful  destiny  as 
leader  of  the  Arab  world.  After  the  Camp  David  accords, 
Egypt i  the  previous  leader  of  the  Arab  states,  was  rejected 
without  a  clear  successor.  Here  was  an  opportunity  for 
Saddam  Hussein,  president  of  Iraq,  that  seemed  to  him  to  be 
too  good  to  misss  a  weak,  belligerent,  and  thoroughly 
disliked  non-Arab  nation?  a  long  term  and  arguably 
justifiable  grudge?  the  promise  of  a  permanent  regional 
power  realignment  in  Iraq’s  advantage?  and  the  glittering 
possibility  of  leadership  of  the  Arab  nations  on  the  world 

Additionally,  the  area  of  planned  invasion  looked 
especially  vulnerable.  Khuzestan,  also  known  as  Arabistan, 
was  at  least  -40%  Arab,  and  its  oil  workers  had  recently 
reacted  violently  in  opposition  to  the  Islamic  government’s 
attempts  to  influence  operations  in  the  oil  fields  and 
refineries.^  Hussein  made  much  of  the  racial  factor  in 
public  statements  and  may  have  over  estimated  its  impact  on 


ideological  grounds.  That  Khuzestan  was  also  almost 

exclusively  Shi’ite  was  discounted,  since  it  was  felt  the 
ethnic  loyalty  would  prove  dominant.  There  was  some  reason 
to  believe  this.  The  corresponding  border  area  of  Iraq  was 
also  Shi’ite  as  was  the  Iraqi  enlisted  force.  If  racial 
loyalty  was  the  dominant  factor  in  Iraq,  then,  the  ideology 
suggested  it  would  be  dominant  in  Khuzestan. 

In  the  final  analysis,  Hussein’s  reach  exceeded  his 

grasp.  Like  many  other  dictators  whose  sense  of  destiny 


drove  them  to  military  adventurism,  he  could  not  turn  down  a 
seeming  golden  opportunity. 

Iran  was  regionally  isolated  even  before  the 
revolution.  Its  clumsy  and  ineffective  use  of  power  against 
the  Dhofar  rebels  in  Oman  and  support  of  the  Kurdish  rebel 
against  Iraq,  its  heavy  handed  negotiation  with  Iraq  over 
the  Shatt  el  Arab  in  1975,  and  its  paternal ist i c  attitude 
toward  the  Gulf  virtually  guaranteed  sufficient  animosity  in 
the  region. 

Since  the  Islamic  revolution  things  had  gotten 
decidedly  worse.  Iran  held,  with  malicious  intent,  American 
Embassy  and  military  personnel  for  ransom;  the  Iranian 
Revolutionary  Party  (IRP)  was  erratically  and  brutally 
rooting  out  opposition  while  competitors  for  for  IRP 
leadership  fought  amongst  themselves.  The  IRP  openly  incited 
Islamic  peoples  everywhere,  especially  Iraqis,  to  revolt 
against  their  corrupt  leaders.^  To  make  matters  worse,  its 
announced  intention  to  use  oil  to  gain  concessions  and  as  a 


tool  of  influnce  in  its  foreign  policy  arsenal)  assured 
regional  and  global  enmity.  However,  it  remained  in  OPEC, 
and  joined  with  Syria,  South  Yemen,  and  Libya  in  the 
"Steadfastness  front",  a  group  of  like  minded  radical 

Post-revolut ionary  Iranian  intent  toward  Iraq  is  more 
difficult  to  fathom.  Although  a  low  intensity  border  war  had 
been  in  progress  through  the  previous  year,  there  was  no 
troop  redeployment  other  that  for  internal  security. 

Khomeini’s  strategic  perspective  appears  to  have  an  Ad 
Horn in em  quality.  He  made  a  number  of  theatening  statements 
directed  at  the  person  of  Saddam  Hussein,  calling  him  at  one 
point  the  "dwarf  pharoah".6  He  also  directed  personal 
attacks  at  other  leaders  whom  he  thought  opposed  him,  both 
externally  and  internally,  including  the  Saudi  leaders  after 
1982.^  Khomeini’s  Ad  Horn in em  foreign  policy  approach  was 
later  illustrated  during  the  attempt  to  negotiate  a  truce 
between  Iran  and  IraqJ  he  insisted  that  Hussein  be  put  on 
trial  and  beheaded  before  an  armistice  be  concluded.  The  key 
to  the  influence  of  Iran  may  be  through  a  personal 
relationship  with  the  Ayatollah. 

Geography  of  the  Battle  area. 

The  Iraq-Iran  border  stretches  roughly  1500  Kilometers 
from  the  Persian  Gulf  in  the  South  to  the  common  Turkish 
border.  It  transits  swamplands,  plains,  desert  and  mountain 

wasteland.  In  the  southern  border  region  that  has  seen  the 
greatest  fighting*  the  temperature  ranges  from  just  below 
freezing  in  January  in  the  mid-nineties  in  July.  Winter 
rainfalls  are  quite  severe,  with  an  annual  rainfall  of  about 
20  inches.  Since  the  Tigris  and  Euphrates,  which  drain  the 
central  Iraqi  basin,  and  the  Karun  river,  out  of  the  Iranian 
Zagros  mountains,  drains  into  the  Shatt  al  Arab,  the  river 
routinely  floods,  covering  a  broad  expanse  of  low  lying 
swamplands.  Seasonal  rains  can  vary  as  much  as  40’/.,  however, 
and  during  the  fall  of  1990  rains  were  unusually  heavy.  The 
Iranian  oil  fields  are  fifty  to  200  miles  east  of  the  border 
in  the  south  of  Khuzestan  province;  the  Iraqi  fields  are  100 
to  200  miles  west  of  the  border  in  the  North  at  Kirkuk. 

In  the  Northern  and  central  sectors,  the  Zagros  runs 
along  the  Iranian  side  of  the  border  creating  a  formidable 
obstacle.  The  Iraqi  terrain  in  the  central  sector  is  much 
flatter  all  the  way  to  Baghdad,  although  it  is  more 
mountainous  in  Kurdistan  as  closer  to  Turkey.  These  areas 
are  relatively  arid,  although  there  are  woodlands  in  the 
higher  altitude  valleys  and  large  cultivated  and  irrigated 


areas  from  Kirkuk  to  the  Syrian  border  in  the  west. 

The  Shatt  al  Arab,  or  the  Shore  of  the  Arabs,  plays  a 
central  role  in  the  events  leading  up  to  the  war.  The  Shatt 
is  a  meandering  channel,  combining  the  Tigris,  Euphrates  and 
Karan  rivers,  and  makes  up  the  lower  border  between  Iran  and 


Iraq.  It  is  from  on  quarter  to  three  quarters  of  a  mile  wide 
and  silts  up  rapidly  if  it  is  not  kept  clear. 

Possession  and  control  of  the  Shatt  has  remained  a  bone 
of  contention  since  it  was  used  as  a  demarcation,  however, 
the  current  debate  began  in  1914.  The  1914  treaty,  clarified 
in  1937,  gave  the  bulk  of  the  Shatt  to  Iraq,  then  under 
British  control.  This  gave  the  Iraqis  the  potential  of 
severely  restricting  Iranian  passage  from  its  major  oil 
refinery  in  Abadan  to  the  Persian  Gulf.  Iran  continued  to 
use  the  Shatt  without  change,  but  also  planned  and  built 
several  pipelines  to  points  lower  on  the  Gulf.  In  1969,  Iraq 
told  Iran  it  might  close  the  Shatt  to  Iranian  shipping.  In 
1971,  diplomatic  relations  were  severed  and  a  period  of 
rising  tension  ensued. 

With  the  exception  of  a  temporary  rapproachment  during 

the  1973  Arab-Israeli  war,  forces  and  actions  on  the  border 

continued  to  build,  culminationg  in  several  border  clashes 

in  1974  and  overt  support  of  the  Kurdish  rebels  in  Iraq  by 

Iran.  In  1975,  a  treaty  was  worked  out  under  Algerian 

auspices  dividing  the  Shatt  at  the  midpoint  of  the  deepest 

channel, (the  thalweg  line),  and  ending  Iranian  support  for 

the  Kurds.  The  Iraqi  negotiator  was  Saddam  Hussein,  later 
to  become  the  first  Iraqi  civilian  head  of  state,  and 
initiator  of  the  Iran-Iraq  war. 

Following  the  accord  in  1975,  both  Iraq  and  Iran 
continued  to  improve  their  military  forces!  Iraq  largely 

because  its  poor  performance  in  the  1973  Arab-Israeli  u»ar» 
and  Iran  as  part  of  its  emerging  agenda  of  security  for  the 
Gulf  region.  A  more  detailed  analysis  of  the  force 
comparison  between  the  two  powers  before  the  war  follows. 

Before  the  war  commenced,  Iraq  appeared  on  the  verge  of 
ascendancy  in  the  Persian  Gulf  region.  It  had  a  well 
equipped  army  and  Air  Force,  powerful  allies,  and  a 
centralised  government  in  firm  control. 

The  Iraqi  army  was  considered  to  have  a  good 
capability,  having  undergone  intense  scrutiny, 
reorganization,  and  training  following  its  lackluster 
performance  in  the  1973  Arab-Israeli  War.  By  1980  the  army 
had  more  than  doubled  in  size.  Special  emphasis  was  given  to 
armored  and  armored  infantry  forces,  air  defense,  anti-tank, 
Air  Forces  and  transpor tat  ion  units.  Saddam  Hussein,  a 
civilian  who  had  come  to  power  in  1979  through  a  protracted 
internal  struggle  with  powerful  revolut ionary  military 
leaders,  had  consolidated  his  control  over  the  military 

The  secular  Ba’ath  party  had  made  use  of  the  increased 
profit  available  through  oil  revenues  and  the  standard  of 
living  had  improved.  Additionally,  the  Soviet  Union  was  a 
military  ally  of  long  standing,  having  supplied  the  Iraqi 
army  since  the  assassination  of  the  Hashemite  King  in  1958. 
It  had  fully  supported  Iraq’s  involvement  in  the  1967  and 
1973  wars  with  Israel  and  was  closely  allied  politically 


with  the  Ba’ath  party  and  its  general  goals:  pan-arabism, 
socialism,  anti-colonial  ism,  and  the  destruction  of 
Israel . 10 

Accurate  force  comparisons  are  always  difficult.  This 
was  particularly  true  in  Iran  in  1980  which  was  in  a  state 
of  chaos  and  unreceptive  to  inquiries  of  any  kind.  The 
figures  used  here  come  from  the  Institute  for  Internat ional 
and  Strategic  Studies  in  London  and  are  the  most  reliable, 
although  difficult  of  verify  outside  of  classified  sources. 
As  Clausewitz  states  in  the  introductory  quotation,  means 
are  largely  a  matter  of  figures  and  easily  measured:  the 
strength  of  Iran’s  will,  (in  Van  Creveld’s  terms,  "Fighting 
Power")  is  the  basic  thesis  question. 

Table  3.1  shows  selected  elements  for  comparison  in 
1980,  1981,  and  1982.**  These  figures  cover  the  period  I 

will  focus  on  in  my  analysis  of  the  war. 

High  Performance  Aircraf 
N aval  Seagoing  Warships 

What  can  be  gathered  from  the  Table  3. 1  is  that  rough 
parity  existed  in  quantity  of  equipment  at  the  beginning  of 
the  war  ,  although  Iran  quantity  of  equipment  was  eroded, 
especially  in  Aircraft.  In  two  critical  areas,  tanks  and 
armored  fighting  vehicles,  Iraq  kept  a  considerable  edge. 

In  Naval  Seagoing  Warships  (Frigates  and  Destroyers),  Iran’s 
edge  allowed  an  immediate  and  permanent  blockade  of  Iraqi 
oil  sea  line  of  communication. 

The  Quality  comparison  is  more  difficult.  Since,  in 
general,  Iraq  spent  less  on  military  hardware  and  got  more, 
the  quality  of  the  equipment  purchased  may  have  been  lower? 
however,  the  defense  expenditures  were  offset  by  the 
source, (the  Soviet  Union)  and  loans  received  from  other 
nations  (notably  Saudi  Arabia  during  the  War).  The  Iraqis, 
after  the  war  commenced,  complained  about  the  quality  of  the 
Soviet  aircraft  ordnance?  however,  evidence  suggests  that 
the  quality  of  the  Iraqi  pilots  was  more  to  blame. 

Addi t i ona 1 ly ,  the  quality  of  the  Iranian  equipment  was 
drastically  reduced  by  the  poor  logistical  program 
previously  noted  and  the  simple  neglect  after  the 
Revolution.  As  an  example,  almost  60’/.  of  the  army  had 
deserted  since  the  revolution  and  only  507.-  80’/.  of  Iran’s 
aircraft  were  consider  inoperable  at  the  start  of  the  war 
for  maintenance.  As  Iran  still  held  the  American  embassy 
personnel,  it  was  unlikely  that  it  would  receive  large  scale 

logistical  support  from  the  west  for  its  higher  quality 
western  equipment. 

It  is  assumed  that  no  great  difference  existed  between 
Iraq  and  Iran  in  the  quality  of  the  equipment.  The  equipment 
Iran  purchased  may  have  been  of  slightly  higher  quality, 
being  of  western  manufacture  and  more  expensive,  but  it  was 
very  poorly  maintained  and  was  without  a  logistical 
sustaining  "base.  (As  an  aside,  an  indication  of  Iran’s 
desperation  to  solve  the  logistical  problem,  it  purchased 
repair  parts  from  its  sworn  enemy;  Israel.  This  source  was 
limited,  however,  and  was  ended  when  the  war  front 
stabi 1 i zed. 

What  is  not  stated  in  Table  3.1  is  major  inequities  in 
two  strategic  areas  of  a  long  conflict;  total  population, 
GNP,  and  reserve  manpower. 

Table  3.2 





Total  population 

39.  3 




GNP  <$  Bi 1  ) 




Reserve  Manpower 




(0007  s) 





Total  population 


13.  1  1 



GNP  <$  Bi 1  ) 

21 . 4 



Reserve  Manpower 




<  000 ’ s ) 

What  is  immediately  noted  is  that  Iran’s  population  is 
over  three  times  Iraqs;  insignificant  is  a  short  war  but 
decisive  in  a  long  one.  Not  unexpectedly,  Iran’s  reserve 
manpower  grows  over  time,  while  Iraq’s  shrinks.  Also,  Iran’s 
GNP  and  oil  output  grew  during  the  War.  Following  a 
post-revolutionary  reduction,  the  Iran’s  oil  exports  rose  to 
the  OPEC*ceiling  by  1930.  Contrastingly,  Iraq's  oil 
production  has  yet  to  achieve  pre-war  levels.  Iraq  has  also 
received  almost  $90  Billion  in  loan  and  loans  guarantees 
during  the  war. 

Two  important  facts  are  evident  from  analyzing  the 
Quality  and  Quantity  of  equipment  and  the  start  of  the  war. 
First,  there  was  rough  parity  between  the  land  forces. 
Second,  Iraq  was  potentially  vulnerable  in  a  protracted 
conflict  because  of  its  relatively  small  population,  and 
dependence  on  oil  revenue.  The  significance  of  this  second 
factor  is  small  initially,  but  grows  exponentially  as  the 
war  continues. 

Relevant  Demography. 

Iran  is  ethnically  and  racially  diverse.  Primarily 
Persian  (63*/.),  Iran  also  includes  Turk  (18*/.),  Arab  (13*1), 
Kurd  (3*/.),  and  Baluchi  and  other  minorities.  The  Arab 
minority  is  concentrated  in  Khuzestan,  as  previously  noted. 


Khuzstan  mas  a  semi -autonomous  Arab  state  until  the  reign  of 
Reza  Shah,  when  it  was  forcibly  absorbed. 

Conversely,  Iraq  is  ethnically  Arab  with  the  exception 
of  Turk  and  Kurd  minorities.  However,  its  population  is 
split  between  the  Sunni  in  the  north  and  west  and  the 
shi’ite  in  the  east  along  the  Iran-Iraq  border.  Sunni’s  make 
up  the  majority  of  officers  in  the  Iraqi  army,  while 
Shi’ites  make  up  the  bulk  of  the  enlisted  force. 

In  short,  the  ethnically  Arab,  religiously  Shi’ite 
population  of  Southeastern  Iraq  abuts  on  the  demographi cal ly 
similiar  Iranian  population  in  Khuzestan.  It  is  worth  noting 
that  the  appeals  to  Arab  brotherhood  by  Iraq  and  Shi’ite 
loyalties  by  Iran  were  both  singularly  unsuccessful.13 

Two  periods  in  the  war  are  analysed  in  greater  detail; 
first  because  the  outcome  of  each  was  unexpected,  and  second 
because  the  unexpected  outcome  may  help  determine  Iranian 
Fighting  Power.  The  first  is  the  Iranian  reaction  to  the 
Iraqi  invasion  and  the  second  is  the  Iranian 
counteroffensive  campaign. 

Iraq  crossed  the  border  with  at  least  six  divisions  at 
two  widely  separated  points.  The  Northern  area  was  attacked 
with  one  division  along  a  broad  front  near  Qasr-e-Shir in 
along  the  traditional  Baghdad  -  Teheran  invasion  route.  It 
was  apparently  a  defensive  move  to  seize  defendable  terrain 
that  would  block  access  to  the  flatter,  rolling  terrain 
between  the  Iranian  border  and  Baghdad.  It  was  successful 

as  far  south  as  Mehran,  roughly  30  miles*  but  only  3  to  5 
miles  deep.  Importantly,  it  was  an  area  promised  to  Iraq  by 
the  Shah  as  part  of  the  1975  Algiers  treaty,  but  not 
surrendeed.  No  further  advance  was  made  in  the  area. 

The  remaining  five  armored  and  motorised  divisions  made 
the  major  attack  in  the  south.  The  main  element  was  a  two 
division  force  which  crossed  the  Shatt-al-Arab  to  seize 
Khorraftishar  and  Abadan.  Three  divisons  crossed  the  border 
further  north  and  began  to  drive  along  two  axes  toward  Ahvaz 
(the  capital  of  Khuzestan  province)  and  Dezful.  The  primary 
objective  was  apparently  to  isolate  the  two  oil  refining 
ports  in  the  delta  of  the  Eupharates  (Khoramshahr  and 
Abadan)  and  cut  the  critical  oil  pipeline  between  them  and 
Ahvaz,  thereby  denying  Teheran  oil  for  both  internal 
consumption  and  export.  The  operation  closely  resembled  the 
the  successful  British  Invasion  in  1941  in  several  pect; 
area,  force  size,  and  initial  objectives. 

Initial  Iraqi  reports  were  ecstatic.  Within  the  first 
day,  Hussein  was  on  the  verge  of  announcing  the  annexation 
of  all  of  Khuzestan  and  stated,  in  fact,  that  the  war  had 
"asserted  its  own  claims”.^  However,  progress  was  slower 
than  expected.  Iraqi  forces  stopped  short  of  the  Karun  river 
in  the  South,  and  failed  to  reach  either  Dezful  and  Ahvaz, 
although  Iraq  claimed  to  surround  them  "on  three  sides".  In 
part,  this  was  a  result  of  a  political  reluctance  to  incur 


large  casualties.  Unquest ionably ,  however,  the  virulence  of 
the  Iranian  resistance  was  completely  unexpected. 

By  the  end  of  September,  Iraq  was  forced  on  the 
defensive?  tactically,  operational ly ,  and  strateg i cal ly . 
Armor  was  dug  in,  infantry  built  up  defensive  positions,  and 
attacks  consisted  of  heavy  artillery  bombardment.  A  number 
of  analysts  have  commented  on  the  "World  War  I"  flavor  of 
this  stage  of  the  war,  complete  with  entrenchments, 
artillery  duels  and,  eventually,  chemical  weapons. 

Operat ional ly ,  activities  seemed  to  cease.  Hussein,  who  felt 
his  support  would  erode  if  casualties  were  high,  and 
surprized  by  the  Iranian  resistance,  abandoned  any 
operational  initiative.  Strategical ly  too,  Iraq  proclaimed 
the  defensive.  Hussein  made  his  first  offer  of  a  ceasefire 
at  the  end  of  September  and  repeated  his  offer  several  times 
during  the  next  six  months.  Iraq  never  regained  the 
ini tiative. 

The  Iraqi  mi sassessment  was  made  by  everyone  else  who 
had  evaluated  the  comparative  strength.  What  Iraq,  and 
others,  had  missed  was  the  surprising  Iranian  Fighting 
Power.  The  Quality  and  Quantity  of  equipment  was  more  easily 
measured,  and  Iraq  was  given  an  edge,  or  at  least  parity. 
However,  Fighting  Power,  the  more  nebulous,  and  more 
difficult  to  measure  element  of  Military  Worth,  mulitplied 
the  Iran’s  capability  out  of  proportion  to  the  anticipated 






It  appears  that  Iran  was  surprised  by  the  invasion.  Of 
the  seven  active  divisions*  none  were  on  the  Iraqi  border, 
although  an  armored  divison  was  in  garrison  near  Ahvaz. 
However,  roughly  240  military  incidents  had  taken  place 
between  Iran  and  Iraq,  many  involving  the  Pasdran,  or  the 
Islamic  Revolutionary  Guard  Corps  (IRGC).  The  Pasdran 
numbered  about  30,000  at  this  time  and  was  a  light  infantry 
fordfe.  It  was  primarily  in  Teheran  and  was  the  overt 
coercive  element  of  the  IRP.  The  integration  of  the  Pasdran 
and  the  Regular  Iranian  army  was  eventually  affected  out  of 
military  necessity  and  is  separately  addressed. 

Achieving  strategic  and  tactical  surprize,  the  Iraqi 
northern  objectives  were  seized  easily  and  no  opposition  was 
initially  encountered  in  the  countryside  in  the  south. 
However,  the  Iranian  strategic  reaction  was  swift  and 
apparently  well  planned.  Air  strikes  began  almost 
immediately  on  Iraqi  strategic  targets  (oil  fields,  air 
bases,  etc.),  the  Iranian  Navy  closed  the  Shatt  to  Iraq  and 
attacked  Iraqi  ports,  active  Army  forces  where  deployed,  and 
reserves  mobilized,  although  the  Army’s  reacted  more  slowly. 

Such  a  rapid,  coordinated  response  can  not  be  made  Ad 
Hoc.  The  Shah’s  army  had  done  extensive  planning  for  just 
such  an  event;  it  is  likely  that  the  contingency  plans 
previously  developed  were  dusted  off  and  used. 

What  is  most  significant,  however,  was  the  speed  and 
efficiency  in  the  execution  of  these  plans.  What  can  be 

concluded  is  that  the  Iranian  armed  forces  acted  with  energy 
and  dispatch  to  a  bol t-out-of — the-blue  attack.  It  was  not 
the  reaction  an  armed  force  fractured  by  indiscipline  or 
indecision?  it  was  the  reaction  of  an  army  with  a  clear  goal 
and  single  intent.  From  the  first  moment,  then,  the  Islamic 
army  was  vastly  different  than  the  Reza  Shah’s  army,  or  the 
army  that  rebelled  against  its  officers  during  the 
revolut ion . 

Tactically,  the  resistance  was  also  noted  for  it  vigor. 
Khoramshar,  the  Iranian  city  closest  to  the  border,  was 
defended  succesfully  for  over  a  month,  initially  by  police 
and  local  militia,  later  by  regular  army  and  Pasdran  forces. 
The  defense  was  so  stubborn  that  it  was  renamed  Kun inshah  - 
City  of  Blood. 18 

Iraq’s  lack,  of  preparation  for  urban  warfare  did  not 

stop  it  form  launching  heavy  persistent  attacks.  Nor  does  it 

explain  the  tenacity  of  the  city’s  defenders,  long  after  the 

city  had  been  isolatd,  or  the  equally  stubborn  defense  of 

neighbouring  Abadan,  which  was  not  claimed  by  Iraq  until  10 

1 9 

November  and  was  contested  continually.  However,  it  can  be 
explained  as  a  manifestation  of  an  energized  people,  army, 
government  linkage. 

The  remainder  of  the  front  was  largely  stabilized 
while  fighting  for  the  cities  of  Abadan  and  Khoramshar  went 
on  into  October  and  November.  By  January  1981  Iranian 
redeployments  and  preparation  for  the  initial 

counteroffensives  were  in  progress.  The  Pasdran,  still 
separate  from  the  army,  was  conducting  nighttime  cross 
border  sabotage  raids.  The  first  major  counter-attack  at 
Susangerd  was  to  be  a  watershed  for  the  army,  and,  also  for 
Iranian  politics. 

The  false  start;  the  Battle  of  Susangerd. 

The  Iranian  counteroffensive  at  Susangerd  was 
ultimately  unsuccessful,  although  it  had  a  promising 
beginning.  It  resulted  in  a  shake  up  of  army  command  and 
control,  and  the  integration  of  the  Pasdran.  It  was  also  the 
cause  for  the  eventual  downfall  of  Eani  Sadr. 

For  a  number  of  months,  Bani  Sadr,  then  the  Prime 
Minister,  had  planned  for  a  large  scale  offensive  to  drive 
the  Iraqis  out.  It  was  his  intent  to  develop  the  army  as  his 
power  base,  a  pattern  noted  earlier  in  Iranian  History,  and 
to  cement  his  position  as  a  leader  with  the  people  and 
Khomeini.  He  was  also  anxious  to  fortify  himself  against  the 
attacks  of  his  principal  rivals  in  the  radical  clergy,  whose 
military  power  base  was  in  the  Pasdran. 

The  battle  plan  was  ambitious,  concentrat i ng  armor  in  a 
penetration  to  break  the  front  and  carry  the  war  into  Iraq. 
Significantly,  the  attack  was  made  without  the  Pasdran,  a 
largely  infantry  force.  Bani  Sadr  did  not  want  to  share  his 
victory  with  the  the  radical  clergy  who  opposed  him. 

The  attack  made  initial  gains*  but  the  penetration 

could  not  be  sustained  or  defended*  and  a  large  number  of 


tanks  were  lost  or  abandoned. 

A  number  of  critical  decsions  were  made  as  as  a  result 
of  the  defeat  of  the  battle  of  Susangerd.  First  was 
Khomeini’s  procl amat ions  to  "leave  the  war  to  the  soldiers 
and  Generals"  and  his  attacks  upon  the  clergy  for 
interference  in  the  war.  This  was  apparently  directed  at  all 
elements  of  the  government,  including  Eani  Sadr  and  the 
radical  clergy,  although  the  clergy  still  championed  the 
Pasdran.'4'  The  ultimate  result  was  the  establishment  of  the 
Strategic  Defense  Council,  which  included  Eani  Sadr,  IRP 
representatives,  the  Army  and  Pasdran  Commanders. 

Second,  was  Khomeini’s  commitment  to  continue  the  war 
until  Hussein  was  overthrown.  This  was  clear  at  the  Islamic 
peace  conference  in  March,  where  he  insisted  that  Iraq 
withdraw  before  negotiations  began,  and  effectively  scuttled 
the  conference  by  insisting  that  Hussein’s  Koranically 
correct  punishment  was  beheading. 

The  result  was  the  most  significant  change  in  the 
Iranian  army  thus  far;  the  coordination  and  eventual 
integration  of  the  Pasdran  and  the  regular  army.  When  the 
counteroffensive  campaign  kicked  off  in  May,  the  Pasdran  was 
a  vital  part  of  the  attack  and  battlefield  command  and 
control,  although  still  at  this  time  as  separate  units.~~ 

Three  lessons  can  be  drawn  from  the  Iranian  counter 
offensive  campaign.  First,  it  was  a  stunning  success. 
Second,  it  was  coordinated  between  the  Regulars  and  Pasdran, 
as  well  as  other  Naval  and  Air  forces.  Third,  it  was  planned 
from  an  operational  perspective.  It  may,  in  fact,  be  one  of 
the  more  adroit  examples  of  operational  art  in  the  offense 
since  the  World  Wasr  II.  Finally,  the  campaign  established 
the  Iranian  army  as  an  instrument  of  considerable  Military 
Worth  inspite  of  considerable  difficulties  in  Quality  and 
Quantity  of  equipment. 

The  intent  of  the  campaign  was  to  force  the  Iraqi  army 
out  of  Iran  by  coordinated  multi-divisional  attacks  from 
unexpected  fronts.  The  campaign  had  three  major  battles:  the 
battle  for  Abadan  in  September  1981,  operation  Undeniable 
Victory  in  March  1982,  and  operation  Holy  City  in  May  1982. 
When  viewed  as  a  campaign,  they  resemble  a  boxer’s 
left-right-left  combination. 

The  battle  for  Abadan  began  with  a  series  of 
diversionary  attacks  far  north  of  the  city  which  resulted  in 
an  Iraqi  redeployment  away  from  Abadan.  The  two  division 
main  attack  began  with  a  successful  night  infiltration  by 
light  infantry  to  identify  weak  spots.  It  was  followed  up  by 
infantry  engagement  of  strong  points  to  fix  them  in  position 
and  combined  arms  ( infantry,  armor,  artillery,  air)  attacks 
at  identified  weak  points.  As  a  result,  Abadan  was  recoverd, 
Iraq  was  forced  to  withdraw  to  more  defensible  terrain 


beyond  the  Karun  River,  and  Iranian  LOCs  were  restored  in 

Khuzestan . 

Shortly  after  the  battle,  the  top  Regular  and  Pasdran 
commanders  were  killed  in  a  plane  crash.  Although  the  loss 
of  the  top  regular  and  Pasdran  commanders  must  have  set  back 
the  army  to  an  extent,  it  did  not  lose  its  confidence  or  its 
initiative;  in  other  words,  its  fighting  spirit.  That  they 
were  all  killed  together  dramatically  indicates  how  much 
coordination  between  the  two  forces  had  improved  in  a  very 
short  time.  References  in  the  thesis  to  the  Iranian  army 
after  this  battle  include  both  the  old  Regular  army  and  the 
Pasdran,  unless  otherwise  specified. 

Operation  Undeniable  Victory,  which  took  place  in  the 
north  in  the  vicinity  of  Dezful,  began  in  the  third  week  of 
March  with  a  force  of  roughly  four  divisions;  100,000 
regulars  and  30,000  Pasdran  light  infantry.  Iraq  had 
launched  a  number  of  spoiling  attacks  which  resulted  in  a 
high  number  of  casualties  and  a  decision  to  dig  in  even 
deeper.  The  Iranian  attack  began  with  a  night  insertion  of 
commando  forces  behind  Iraqi  lines,  followed  by  a  night 
attack:  on  two  separate  axis  by  combined  Armor  and  Infantry 
units.  The  Iraqis,  surprised  by  both  the  location  and  size 
of  the  attack,  later  claimed  overwhelming  odds  and  "human 
wave"  infantry  assaults  by  frenzied  religious  f  ana 1 1  cs . 

This  is  almost  certainly  false. 

While  infantry  was 

undoubtedly  used  couragously  and  aggresively,  it  was  also 
used  with  great  skill  and  effectiveness. 

In  order  to  appreciate  the  skill  and  effectiveness  of 
the  Iranian  fighting  force  it  is  necessary  to  explain  it  in 
greater  detail.  Night  attacks,  which  are  always  the  most 
difficult  and  require  the  most  detailed  planning,  staff 
work,  rehearsal,  training  and  leadership,  were  routine 
throughout  this  campaign.  Units,  which  were  frequently  out 
of  contact,  acted  with  intiative  and  elan.  For  example, 
small  detachments  of  infantry  were  trained  to  attack: 
specific  Iraqi  positions,  suppress  the  strong  point  to  mask 
the  armored  penetration,  and  assure  a  breakthrough . 

Not  only  is  the  effectiveness,  aggressiveness  and  skill 

of  the  army  demonstrated  by  its  victory  in  these  difficult 

and  complex  night  operations,  but  also  in  the  high  ratios  of 

enemy  to  friendly  dead.  During  this  campaign,  the  Iranian 

soldiers  killed  their  opponents  at  a  ratio  of  about  two  to 

one,  without  Air  supremacy,  against  a  prepared  and  well 

equipped  enemy  in  strong  echeloned  defensive  positions,  at 

night.  It  was  a  couragous,  effective,  and  lethal 

performance  that  any  army  would  be  proud  of.  It  was 
certainly  not  a  series  of  suicidal  assaults  by  crazed 
fanatics  seeking  martyrdom.*" 

The  battle  destroyed  an  Iraqi  armored  division, 
recovered  900  square  miles  of  territory,  and  forced  the 
front  back  to  the  Iraqi  border,  but  was  not  wholly 

successful.  The  ultimate  goal  of  the  two  arms  of  the  double 
envlopment  was  deep  inside  Iraq  and,  while  Iraqi  casualties 
and  MIAs  totaled  40,000,  Iranian  casualties  and  MIAs  were 
close  to  10, 000. 

In  these  battles,  the  Iranian  forces  seldom  achieved 
the  three  to  one  force  ratio  thought  necessary  for 


successful  attack,  but  were  successful  anyway.'1  Given  the 
growing  disadvantages  in  the  Quality  and  Quantity  of 
equipment,  the  multiplicative  aspect  of  Fighting  Power  is 
indicated  as  the  source  of  the  Iranian  land  forces  powerful 
capabilty  and  Military  Worth  (See  Table  3.1  and  3.2). 

Operation  Holy  City  began  in  May,  1982,  close  on  the 
heels  of  the  March  battle.  Three  divisions  used  in  the 
previous  battle  were  redeployed  from  Dezful  to  the  southern 
front  near  Khoramshahr.  Three  separate  division  size 
assaults  toward  separate  targets  pushed  across  the  Karun 
river  to  recapture  Khoramshahr  and  force  the  front  back  to 
the  Iraqi  border.  As  in  previous  attacks,  it  was  preceded  by 
night  infantry  attacks  followed  by  rapidly  concentrated 
armored  attacks.  This  time,  however,  helicopters  were  the 
primary  air  support  weapons. 

By  24  May,  1982,  the  Iraqi  defense  was  crumbling  all 

along  the  front,  Iranian  forces  had  virtually  cleared 

Khuzestan,  and  advanced  to  within  15  miles  of  the  Iraqi  city 

of  Basra. ^  Khoramshahr,  which  Hussein  had  vowed  never  to 

surrender,  fell,  and  Iraq  had  lost  almost  20,000  killed  and 
almost  as  many  prisoners  to  Iran. 

It  was  an  indication  of  the  desperation  of  the  Iraqi 
forces,  that  newly  formed  "triple  digit"  reserve  units  had 
been  called  to  the  front,  as  well  as  foreign  workers. 
Volunteers  for  other  nations,  notably  Jordan  and  Egypt  had 
already  been  used  in  the  fighting. 

Following  the  first  two  years  of  the  war,  major 
activities  slowed  consi derably .  Iraq  could  not  break  the 
Iranian  hold  on  the  Persian  Gulf  sea  lines  of  communication, 
although  it  carried  out  an  increasingly  ambitious,  albeit 
largely  ineffective  air  war  against  the  Iranian  oil  ports  at 
Kharq  Island.  Iranian  oil  exports  continued  to  rise  and  hit 

the  OPEC  imposed  ceiling  in  1983,  in  spite  of  Iraq’s 


imported  technology  and  ccntinous  attacks."  More  recently, 

oil  exports  were  more  effected  by  fluctuations  in  the  oil 


market  demands  and  supply  than  Iraqi  war  action. 

Iran  continued  offensives  on  land  with  decreasing 
effectiveness.  Iraqi  resistance  stiffened  considerably  when 
the  War  moved  into  Iraq.  Additionally,  reduction  in  the 
duality  and  Quantity  of  equipment  had  finally  begun  to 
tell.^*  For  example,  Armored  Fighting  Vehicles  (AFV)  had 
dropped  from  roughly  1100  in  1980  to  700  in  1982.  Aircraft 
had  dropped  from  725  to  67  in  the  same  period. 

The  Khomeini  government,  setting  political  objectives, 
insisted  that  the  war  continue  without  pause,  although  the 

military  leadership*  estimating  its  low  probabi 1 i t ies  of 
success*  strongly  counselled  a  pause  to  rebuild. 
Additionally*  there  was  no  shortage  of  volunteers  from  the 
people  for  the  war  effort.  The  result  was  inadequately 
supported  attacks  and  higher  casualties.  During  this  period* 
Fall*  1982  to  Spring,  1984,  the  Pasdran  was  heedlessly 
expanded  to  almost  100,000  and  was  not  always  adequately 

3  ■-> 

trained,  equipped  or  lead.  *"  The  massed  infantry  attacks 
never  failed  for  lack  of  courage,  but  did  reduce  the  ranks 
of  the  Pasdran  through  attrition. 

After  si::  years  of  struggle,  the  war  continues  without 
sign  of  a  compromise.  Recent  events  have  suggested  that  the 
1985  Iranian  pause  was  a  deliberate  buildup. ^  Iran’s  recent 
two  front  offensive  was  apparently  successful,  although  it 
is  still  too  early  to  evaluate  the  truth  of  the  matter.  In 
any  event,  it  is  clear  evidence  that  the  war  goes  on  and 
Iran  continues  to  press  into  Iraq. 

Iraq  will  not  surrender,  Iran  is  unwilling  to  stop,  and 
neither  side  has  the  strength  to  force  a  sudden  decision 
thus  far  in  war.  In  short,  Iraq  can  not  win  and  can  not 
quit;  Iran  can  not  be  defeated  and  will  not  stop.  Barring 
unforeseen  circumstances,  (such  as  revolution  or  large  scale 
intervention),  the  war  will  end  in  either  a  mutual 
exhaustion,  a  continous  state  of  war,  (such  as  between 

Israel  an  Syria),  or  in  the  gradual  destruction  of  Iraq. 

Overview  and  analysis. 

The  per f ormance  of  the  Iranian  armed  forces, 
particularly  the  combination  of  the  Army  and  the  Pasdran, 
clearly  demonstrates  an  abundance  of  Fighting  Power.  During 
the  first  two  years  of  war,  the  army  was  resilient  in  the 
defense  and  powerful  in  the  offense.  Campaign  planning  was 
skillful  and  violent.  High  levels  of  deceptive  planning  were 
evident  in  the  three  campaigns  examined  as  well  as 
operational  and  tactical  agility  in  the  movement  and 
concentrat ion  of  forces  at  all  levels.  Depth  was  evident  in 
the  air  deep  attacks  and  effective  use  of  deep  insertion  of 
commando  forces.  The  battles  where  synchronized  at  a 
tactical  level,  carefully  timing  the  use  of  infantry  and 
armor  successfully  at  night.  The  counterof fensi ve  campaign, 
particularly  the  March  and  May,  1982  offensives,  were 
genuine  operational  art;  a  combination  of  offensives  punches 
in  a  single  campaign  with  the  same  forces  that  drove  the 
Iraqi’s,  reeling,  into  their  own  territory. 

American  doctrine  is  very  similiar  in  that  it  rests 
also  rest  upon  agility,  initiative,  synchronization,  and 
depth,  as  well  as  on  violent  execution.  However,  American 
doctrine  does  not  suggest  a  willingness  to  accept  the  high 
casualties  implicit  in  the  Iranian  tactical  doctrine,  with 
the  possible  exception  of  US  elite  forces.  However,  the 
Iranian  success  suggests  an  unexpectedly  offensive  role  for 
light  infantry  forces.  Given  sufficient  Fighting  Power,  and 

adequate,  coordinated  Air  and  Artillery  support,  there  is  no 
reason  that  casualties  need  be  so  high,  and  every  reason  to 
believe  that  such  forces  mould  be  successful  against  the 
most  determined  defense. 

The  Iranians,  by  aggressive  use  of  light  infantry  as  an 
assault  force,  supported  by  artillery  and  followed  by  armor, 
are  repeatedly  successful  against  a  Soviet  style  echeloned 
defense  in  depth,  although  they  are  thus  far  unable  to 
exploit  these  offensives  to  operational  depth.  Victories  are 
possible  using  offensive,  aggresive  operations,  if  the 
commander  is  willing  to  accept  the  risk  of  high  casualties. 
Within  the  limitations  of  the  terrain,  and  Iraqi  application 
of  Soviet  Doctrine,  this  may  be  an  important  lesson.  As  a 
minimum,  it  deserves  greater  study. 

The  continued  offensives  by  Iran  testify  to  its 
continued  abundance  of  Fighting  Power,  although  its  loses  in 
the  Quality  and  Quantity  of  equipment  reduced  its  Military 
Worth.  However,  it  continued  to  prosecute  the  war 
successfully,  as  recent  events  testify. 

It  is  clear  that  something  happened  which  radically  and 
perhaps  permanently  changed  the  Fighting  Power  of  the 
Iranian  army.  This  change  had  a  mul tipi icative  effect  on  the 
army’s  Military  Worth  which  allowed  it  to  resist  a 
determined  and  well  armed  attack,  halt  it,  overcome  it,  and 
take  the  offensive.  This  occurred  when  the  Quality  and 
Quantity  of  equipment  was  eroding. 

It  is  logical  to  suggest  that  the  revolution  was  the 

proximate  cause  of  this  radical  change.  The  people,  the  army 
and  the  government,  which  were  at  war  with  one  another  under 
the  Shah,  were  brought  much  closer  to  unity  under  the 
Islamic  Iranian  republic.  It  is  the  purpose  of  the  Chapter 
four  to  show  how  that  occurred. 



1.  Stephen  R.  Grummon?  The  Iran-Iraq  War:  Islam 
Embatt led?  (Washington  D.C.:  Praeger  Publishers?  1982)?  p.  15. 

2.  Anthony  H.  Cordesman?  The  Gulf  and  the  Search  for 
Strategic  Stability?  p.  645?  648?  679. 

3.  Ibid.?  p.  650. 

4.  Ibid.?  p.  649. 

5.  Stephen  R.  Grummon?  The  Iran-Iraq  War?  p.  16. 

6.  Anthony  H.  Cordesman?  The  Gulf  and  the  Search  for 
Strategic  Stability?  p.  648. 

7.  Ibid.?  p.  645 . 

8.  Richard  F.  Nyrop  and  Harvey  Henry  Smith?  eds.? 
Iraq:  A  Country  Study?  DA  pam  550-31?  (Washington?  D. C. :  U.S. 
Government  Printing  Office?  1979),  p.  155. 

9.  Richard  F.  Nyrop?  ed. ?  Iran:  A  Country  Study?  p. 

236 . 

10.  Richard  F.  Nyrop  and  Harvey  Henry  Smith?  eds.? 
Iraq:  A  Country  Study?  pp.  251-252. 

11.  Data  in  Table  3.1,  3.2?  and  4.1  are  taken  from  The 

Gulf  and  the  Search  for  Strategic  Stability  by  Anthony  H. 
Cordesman?  pp.  726?  743.  Source  of  Statistics  is  The  Miltary 

Ba 1 ance  and  Strategic  Survey?  I n t ernat i ona 1  Institute  of 
Strategic  Studies?  (Cambridge?  England:  Heffers  Printers  Ltd., 
various  years). 

12.  Anthony  H.  Cordesman?  The  Gulf  and  the  Search  for 
Strategic  Stability?  pp.  728?  732.  Also  see  Hickman,  Ravaged 
and  Reborn?  p.  1. 

13.  Anthony  H.  Cordesman?  The  Gulf  and  the  Search  for 
Strategic  Stability?  p.  649. 

14.  Ibid.?  p.  661?  Also  Stephen  R.  Grummon,  The 
Iran-Iraq  War?  p.  25. 

15.  Anthony  H.  Cordesman?  The  Gulf  and  the  Search  for 
Strategic  Stability?  p.  648. 

16 .  Ibid.?  p.  663. 


Ibid.,  p.  670 

20.  William  F.  Hickman,  Ravaged  and  Reborn;  The 
Iranian  Army,  1982,  (Washington,  D.C.s  The  Brookings 
Institution,  1982)  p.  25. 

21.  The  Economist,  February  21,  1981.  This  mas  not  a 

change  for  Khomeini,  but  the  events  underscored  it. 

22.  Anthony  H.  Cordesman,  The  Gulf  and  the  Search  for 
Strategic  Stability,  p.  670. 


Ibid.,  p.  673. 

24 . 





Ibid.  p.  674. 


Ibid,  p,  673. 


Ibid.  p.  677. 


Ibid.  p.  549. 


Department  of  State  Bulletin,  Vol  85, 

Num'  »r 

December,  1985  p.  68.  and  Barry  Rubin,  "Middle  Edst: 
for  Peace”,  Foreign  Affairs,  February,  1985,  p.  600. 

31 . 

Ibid.,  p .  727 . 


Ibid. ,  P.  682. 

33.  G.H.  Jansen,  "Dawn  Eight  Shakes  the  Gulf," 
East  International,  21  February,  1986,  pp.  3-5. 

Mi ddle 



Chapter  Four 

The  Effect  of  the  Islamic  Revolution 
on  the  Iranian  Army 

“History  provides  the  strongest  proof  of  the  importance 
of  moral  factors  and  their  often  incredible  effect;  this  is 
the  noblest  and  most  solid  nourishment  that  the  mind  of  a 
general  may  draw  from  a  study  of  the  past...  One  might  say 
that  the  physical  seems  little  more  that  the  wooden  hilt, 
while  the  moral  factors  are  the  precious  metal,  the  real 
weapon,  the  finely-honed  blade.” 

Carl  Von  Clausewitc 

In  the  Chapter  one  I  outlined  the  relationship  between 
Fighting  Power  and  the  people)  army,  and  government  trinity. 
In  Chapter  two  I  demonstrated  the  weaknesses  in  that  trinity 
under  the  Pahlavi  Shahs?  and  that  the  military  Worth  of  the 
army  was  probably  much  less  than  it  appeared  due  to  its  weak 
Fighting  Power.  Chapter  three  demonstrated  the  surprising 
Fighting  Power  of  the  Iranian  army  in  the  Iran-Iraq  War.  In 
Chapter  four,  which  follows,  I  will  propose  that  the  Islamic 
revolution  was  the  cause  of  the  significant  increase  in  the 
army’s  Fighting  Power,  and  explore  the  implications  of  that 
change  on  the  military  use  of  landpower  in  the  region. 

The  revolution  had  both  direct,  indirect,  deliberate 
and  unintentional  effects  an  the  Iranian  army.  As  noted  in 
Chapter  two,  a  revolution  of  the  scope  and  totality  of  the 
Islamic  revolution,  has  a  significant  effect  on  all  aspects 
of  a  society.  In  the  case  of  the  Iranian  army,  it  was  tied 
closer  to  the  collective  intent  of  the  people  through  the 
nature  of  the  popular  revolution  and  the  actions  and 
attitudes  of  the  soldiers  themselves.  Through  direct 
pressure  by  the  revolutionary  government,  it  was  changed  in 
spirit  and  intent  to  fit  the  government’s  aims.  The 
relationship  between  the  people  and  the  government,  through 
the  fervor  of  the  popular  Islamic  revolt,  was  significantly 
stengthened.  The  relationship  between  the  three  elements  of 

the  Clausewi tzean  trinity  were  radically  redefined  and 

However,  the  revolution  was  not  an  unalloyed  blessing 
for  the  military  strength  of  Iran.  Between  the  revolution 
and  the  Iraqi  invasion,  almost  60'/.  of  the  army  deserted.* 
Those  remaining,  who  had  seen  their  fellow  soldiers  turn  on 
their  officers,  were  undisciplined,  unreliable,  and  restive. 
To  make  matters  worse,  two  purges  removed  almost  all  the 
senior  army  leadership  and  50V.  of  all  officers."  Logistical 
support,  already  riddled  with  problems,  grew  rapidly  worse 
as  western  sources  of  supply  were  cut  off.  Technological 
equipment  deteriorated  for  lack,  of  maintenance  and  shortage 
of  skilled  personnel. 

To  explain  how  the  revolution  enabled  that  army,  which 
had  serious  flaws  to  start  with,  rapidly  deteriorating 
equipment,  and  rebellious  personnel,  to  stop  and  defeat  a 
larger  and  better  equipped  invader,  is  the  intent  of  this 
chapter . 

Effect  on  the  People,  Army,  Government  Relationship. 

Ayatollah  Khomeini’s  influence  on  public  opinion  in 
Iran  during  the  revolt  is  hard  to  overestimate.  Khomeini  was 
a  popular  and  acclaimed  figure  and  the  revolution  was 
nothing  if  not  a  populist  revolt.  In  Iraq,  and  during  his 
exile  in  France,  Khomeini’s  speeches  and  philosophy  were 
broadcast  from  mosques  throughout  Iran.  In  fact,  his  exile 

by  Saddam  Hussein  increased  his  ability  to  influence  the 
Iranian  people,  and  secured  his  position  as  sole  leader  of 
the  Islamic  revolution.^  So  manifest  was  his  popularity* 
acclaim  and  power,  that  his  return  to  Iran  was  a  celebration 


and  a  triumph.  Within  a  few  days,  even  before  the  post-Shah 
government  fell,  he  appointed  a  new  Prime  Minister  to  form  a 
new  government.^ 

Khomeini’s  primary  theme  was  already  deeply  ingrained 
in  the  Iranian  Shi’itesj  that  Islamic  law  ordained  the  rules 
of  a  rightious  life?  and  that  disobedience  to  them  was  an 
act  against  Allah  and  the  Koran.  Coupled  with  the  real  and 
perceived  injustices;  the  Shah’s  opulent  lifestyle  and 
liberal  western  notions,  and  the  deliberate  terror  spread  by 
his  secret  organizations,  it  is  small  wonder  that  Khomeini 
founded  an  enthusiastic  audience. 

As  this  enthusiam  turned  into  revolution,  then  to  a 
revolutionary  government  guided  by  Islamic  principles,  and 
finally  to  an  Islamic  Republic  at  war  with  an  invader,  the 
people  and  the  government,  which  were  naturally  allied  by 
common  intent,  became  further  cemented  as  challenge  after 
challenge,  both  internal  and  external,  were  successfully 
met . 

As  would  be  expected,  the  feeling  of  the  people  for  the 
army  was  strongly  effected  by  Khomeini’s  attitude  and 


Khomeini  followed  two  tracks  in  his  attitude  toward  the 
Shah’s  army.  He  urged  the  members  of  the  Armed  Forces  to 
desert  and  join  the  revolutioni  with  considerable  effect.^3 
At  the  same  time*  he  urged  his  followers  not  to  resist  the 
army ,  but  to  recognize  the  soldiers  as  brothers. 

"You  must  appeal  to  the  soldier’s  hearts  even  if  they  fire 
on  and  kill  you.  Let  them  kill  five  thousand,  ten  thousand, 
twenty  thousand — they  are  our  brothers  and  we  welcome  them. 
We  will  prove  that  blood  is  more  powerful  than  the  sword"' 

Although  addressed  to  the  revolutionaries,  this  was  also 
intended  for  the  conscripts.  The  soldiers,  in  the  opinion  of 
Khomeini,  were  the  people  also.  This  might  also  have 

been  a  shrewd  trick  by  a  skillful  revolutionary  who  intended 
to  subvert  the  military.  However,  as  we  shall  see, 
Khomeini’s  later  actions  bore  out  this  attitude.  He  was 
quite  supportive  of  soldiers  and  officers  of  good  Islamic 
credentials  and  had  no  intention  of  replacing  the  army.  In 
fact,  he  intended  to  maintain  the  army,  quite  unlike  the 
communist  leaders  of  the  Tudeh  revolutionaries  committees. 

He  was  supportive  of  the  army’s  need  for  discipline  and  good 
order,  and  fair  to  those  purged  from  military  service, 
allowing  them  to  retire  and  specifically  according  them  "the 
rights  and  respects  of  all  citizens". 

Shortly  after  the  Shah  left  the  country,  a  large  number 


of  officers  of  all  grades  fled  with  their  families.  There 

u>as  apparently  no  wholesale  "reign  of  terror",  which 

threatened  officers  generally,  however  an  officer  purge  was 

made  a  top  priority  to  assure  the  security  of  the  new 


The  initial  purge  in  the  army  was  limited  to  General 

officers  and  those  accused  of  attrocities.  Of  the  404  total 

executions  during  this  period,  only  26  were  General 

Officers,  who  were,  for  the  most  part,  of  the  Shah’s 

security  apparatus.  The  remainder,  almost  200,  were  allowed 

to  retire  under  the  provisions  of  the  law. Although  many 

other  officers  were  forcibly  retired,  there  is  little 

evidence  of  an  i ndi scr imi nate  housecleani ng.  In  fact,  this 

was  resisted  by  the  revolutionary  government. 

Khomeini  recognized  the  need  for  a  strong  military  and 

intended  to  maintain  one. ^  Consequently,  pressure, 

demonstrat ions,  and  demands  by  leftist  elements  to 

completely  disband  the  army  were  strongly  overruled. 

Khomeini  saw  these  groups,  particularly  the  Tudeh  party,  as 

a  greater  danger  to  the  revolution  if  the  army  was 

disbanded.  Said  another  way,  he  felt  a  greater  security 

threat  from  the  rival  revolut ionary  factions  than  from  the 

1 2 

counter  revolut ionary  threat  of  the  army. 

There  was  also  evident  need  to  keep  the  army  intact, 
aside  from  the  need  to  balance  other  radical  political 

movements.  As  with  the  Shah  before  him,  Khomeini  was 
required  to  use  the  army  in  an  internal  control  role  to  put 
down  revolts  in  the  traditional  trouble  spots!  Kurdestan  and 
Khuzestan.  However,  the  army  was  deployed  with  a  newly 
developing  force;  the  Pasdaran  or  the  Islamic  Revolutionary 
Guard  Corps. 

Khomeini  ordered  the  creation  of  the  Pasdran  at  about 
the  same  time  as  the  initial  purge  in  the  military  was 
taking  place.  It  was  apparently  intended  as  the  coercive 
wing  of  the  Iranian  Revolut ionary  Party  and  an  additional 
safeguard  in  the  event  of  the  Coup  by  royalist  officers,  as 
had  occurred  when  Mossadea  had  attempted  to  overthrow  the 
Shah  in  1953.*^  It  eventually  reached  a  strength  of  about 
30,000  and  remained  in  its  internal  security  role  until  the 
Iraqi  invasion. 

In  an  effort  to  support  the  army  as  an  institution, 

Khomeini  issued  a  number  of  unequivocal  judgements  between 

Feb  28,  1979  and  December  31,  1979  requiring  support  for  the 

army  by  the  people,  the  army  as  the  defender  of  the  Islamic 

republic  and  its  servant,  and  the  requirement  of  discipline 

1 4 

and  good  order  in  the  army. 

Finally,  in  July,  1979,  Khomeini  issued  a  general 
amnesty  for  all  individual  servicemen,  policemen,  and  even 
members  of  the  Shah’s  security  apparatus.  His  amnesty 
statement,  which  follows,  links  the  three  elements  of  the 
Clausewitzean  trinity,  indicates  his  intent  to  keep  those 

three  elements;  the  Iranian  army,  "the  noble  people",  and 
the  government  (Khomeini),  strongly  bonded. 

"The  three  branches  of  the  Armed  forces  are  thus  being 
pardoned,  and  I  and  the  noble  people  forgive  them."*"* 

However,  the  second  and  more  thorough  purge  was  about  to 

Khomeini  was  convinced  of  the  necessity  of  a  more 
thorough  purge  my  his  new  minister  of  Defense,  Mustafa 
Chamran. ^  Chamran  had  considerable  military  revolutionary 
experience  in  Lebanon  as  organizer  of  the  AMAL  terrorists 
and  as  head  of  Khomeini’s  Committee  on  Revolutionary 
Affairs.  Looking  on  the  army  as  the  product  of  the  "Satanic" 
regime  and  in  need  of  total  revision,  he  began  a  thorough 
review  of  all  officers  at  the  grade  of  Major  and  above; 
those  who  the  Shah  had  personally  selected. 

The  purge  was  thorough,  continuing  past  the  Iraqi 
invasion,  and  its  effect  was  wide  spread.  Hickman  estimates 
that  over  one  third  of  the  field  grade  officers  were  removed 
from  service,  or  roughly  9000  army  officers.  Officers  who 
had  association  with  the  United  States,  particularly  after 
the  abortive  hostage  rescue  attempt,  were  especially 
suspect . 

Not  only  were  one  third  of  the  field  grade  officer’s 
removed,  those  removed  were  the  best  trained.  The  Shah  had 

sent  the  best  of  his  officers  to  be  educated  abroad,  many  to 

the  United  States.  Since  association  with  United  States  was 
evidence  of  questionable  loyalty,  most  of  these  officers  in 
the  army  were  removed.  However,  it  also  meant  that  those 
officers  remaining  were  loyal  to  the  revolution,  and  more 
importantly,  Islamically  purified  and  committed  to  carry  out 
the  government’s  agenda. 

In  addition,  Chamran  intended  to  reduce  the  army  to 
half  its  prerevolutionary  size.  Desertion  had  by  and  large 
had  this  affect  on  the  concripted  enlisted  force,  and  those 
remaining  were,  by  default,  more  committed  to  military 
service  under  the  revolutionary  government. 

The  end  result  was  not  a  shortage  of  trained  officers, 
since  the  size  of  both  the  enlisted  force  and  the  officer 
corps  was  cut  almost  in  half,  but  a  definite  change  in  the 
character  of  the  officers  and  soldiers  remaining.  Loyalty 
was  no  longer  to  the  Shah  (personal  pledges  of  loyalty  were 
removed  even  before  he  left),  but  to  the  Islamic  revolution 
and  the  military  ideals  of  Islam.  In  short  the  army  ethic 
was  changing  from  self-serving  allegiance  to  a  despot,  "the 
web  system",  to  an  ethic  of  military  service  to  the 
revolution  and  the  nation. 

This  change  of  values  was  also  reflecteded  in  the  new 
constitution.  Chamran  gave  the  army  two  specific  missions. 
The  first  was  straight  forward;  to  guard  Iran’s 
independence,  (Not  to  the  Shah  or  any  other  individual,  as 


under  the  Pahlavi’s).  The  Second,  was  to  "safeguard"  the 
revolution.  Since  the  Islamic  revolution  was  explicitly 
defined  as  pan-islamic  and  internat ional  in  scope,  this 
mission  had  internat ional  dimensions. 

"Our  defensive  forces,  therefore,  should  be  intrusted  not 

only  with  the  duties  of  safeguarding  our  country's 

frontiers;  they  should  also  be  capable  of  waging  doctrinal 

jihad  in  the  name  of  Allah  and  the  extension  of  His  domain." 

1  -7 

— The  Iranian  Const i tut i on ,  19S3. 

The  army,  having  accepted  the  dual  missions,  needed  the 
support  of  the  government,  and  Chamran  stressed  the 
requirement  for  obedience  to  the  chain  of  command, 
irrespective  of  revolut ionary  councils  or  zealous  clergy. 

The  councils  were  free  to  express  their  advice,  but 
"the  business  of  command  belongs  to  the  commander  and  the 
councils  will  not  have  the  right  to  interfere  in  the  affairs 
of  the  command" 

Although  this  reduced  the  discipline  problem,  other 

factions,  notably  the  Tudeh  party,  continued  to  encourage 

the  revolutionary  councils. 

Most  important,  however,  for  the  people,  army, 

government  relationship  was  Chamran 's  vision  of  the 

organization  of  the  Iranian  Islamic  army.  First,  the 

barriers  between  the  army  and  people  were  to  be  reduced  by 

eliminating  class  barriers  and  progandizing  the  army  as  the 

i  o 

nation's  defender  and  protector  of  the  revolution.  In  part 


this  was  intended  to  provide  greater  security  for  the 
government,  which  felt  more  confidence  in  the  support  of  the 
people  then  the  yet  untested  army;  but  it  was  also  the 
observation  by  Khomeini’s  defense  advisers  that  the  "class 
rigidity”  of  the  Shah’s  army  was  a  reflection  of 
pre-revolutionary  Iran  and  would  not  stand  up  in  the 
protracted  warfare  anticipated. 

Second,  the  entire  nation  was  to  become  an  army .  with 
the  military  prof ess i ona 1 s  providing  the  expertise.^® 

"We  believe  that  the  entire  Iranian  nation  should 
become  the  soldiers  of  the  revolution. ...  The  army  should 
also  be  turned  into  a  specialised  and  modern  technical 
cadre." — Chamran,  October  9,  1979. ^ 

The  army  would  be  a  small  cadre  of  professionals  with  a 
very  large  trained  reserve;  in  fact  the  army  and  the  people 
were  intended  to  have  the  same  military  purpose  and  really 
be  separate  components  of  the  same  system.  Khomeini’s 
announcement,  shortly  after  Chamran’s  statement  on  October 
9th,  of  the  formation  of  the  "Army  of  20  Million"  began  a 
comprehensive  program  of  military  training  in  factories, 
schools,  and  on  television,  complete  with  staff  planning  for 
general  mobilization.  The  "Army  of  20  Million"  was  sometimes 
refferred  to  as  the  Bassej  volunteers. 

Third,  the  army  and  army  Officers  were  to  stay  strictly 
out  of  politics.  This  last  was  also  intended  to  ’nhance  the 

security  of  the  government;  however, 

it  had  the  indirect 

effect  of  clarifying  the  army,  government  relationship  and 
enhancing  the  army’s  professional  ethic.  As  stated  by 
Clausewitz,  "Political  aims  are  the  business  of  government 
alone.  " 

The  revolutionary  government  took  deliberate  steps  to 
transform  the  army  leadership  and  organization  so  that  the 
people,  the  army,  and  the  government  had  a  common  goal  and 
clear,  separate  functions.  They  restored  discipline, 
enhanced  cohesion,  and  defined  the  national  objectives  and 
military  missions. 

This  was  driven  in  part  by  the  nature  of  the  populist 
Islamic  revolution,  in  part  by  other  threats  to  the 
fledgling  revolutionary  government,  and  in  part  by  mistrust 
of  the  old  military  heirarchy.  Although  this  was  not  solely 
motivated  by  a  deliberate  effort  to  enhance  the  military 
power  of  revolutionary  Iran,  it  had  the  effect  of 
significantly  strengthening  the  bonds  between  the  elements 
of  the  Cl ausewi t zean  trinity,  and  thereby,  the  army’s 
Fighting  Power. 

Effects  of  the  Revolution  the  Quality  and  Quantiy  of 
Equi pment 

In  this  section  I  will  explore  the  effect  on  the 
Quality  and  Quantity  and  equipment  and  on  the  Fighting  Power 
of  the  pre-invasion  Iranian  army. 

As  mas  noted  in  earlier  chapters,  the  Quality  and 
Quantity  of  the  Iranian  army’s  equipment  mas  a  reflection  of 
the  Shah’s  military  modernization  program.  Although  the 
equipment  mas  plentiful  and  the  best  available,  it  came  from 
mide  spread  sources  outside  the  country  and  technical 
maintence  personnel  mere  in  short  supply.  In  the  best  of 
circumstances,  logistical  problems  mere  a  nightmare. 
Folloming  the  revolution,  things  became  decidedly  morse. 

As  noted  in  Table  4.1,  the  equipment  mas  still  there, 
but  its  combat  readiness  mas  rapidly  eroding.  Defense 
expenditures  mere  cut  over  and  did  stayed  relativiely 

constant  untl  the  year  folloming  the  invasion.  Of  the  three 
major  portions  of  the  defense  expenditures  (Personnel, 
Acquistions,  and  Sustainment),  personnel  remained  about  the 
same  the  first  year.  Acquistion  payments  continued  in  many 
cases  until  the  revolutionary  government  could  take  over, 
and  in  any  case,  mere  dropping  before  the  revolution.  The 
third  element  mas  sustainment  and  maintenance,  and  it  mas 
this  area  bore  the  brunt  of  the  60’/.  budget  reduction. 

Additionally,  the  trained  technical  personnel,  largely 
marrant  officers,  mere  anti-shah  and  made  no  great  effort  to 
keep  the  force  in  peak,  condition  during  the  revolution.  In 
any  case,  during  and  after  the  revolution,  there  mere  afar 
more  pressing  issues  in  the  military  than  the  sustainment 
and  repair  of  equipment. 

Table  4.  1 

Defense  Spending  (tEil) 
Manpower  (000’s) 

Reserves  (000’s) 


Armored  Fighting  Vehicles 
Ar t i 1 lery 

High  Performance  Aircraft 
Naval  Seagoing  Warships 





























After  1980,  regular  manpower  dropped  to  about  607  of 
the  1979  level.  However,  the  reserve  manpower  and  the 
militia  began  to  grow  considerably,  while  the  defense  budget 
remained  relatively  stable.^  At  the  same  time,  combat 
losses  forced  the  acquisition  of  new  equipment.  Therefore, 
once  again,  little  money  was  available  for  sustainment  and 

Estimates  of  the  operational  capability  of  the  military 
equipment  after  two  years  of  revolutionary  government  vary 
by  type  and  range  from  40/1  to  707.  ^  Therefore,  even  though 
the  quantity  of  equipment  stayed  the  same  until  the  start  of 
the  war,  the  quality  of  the  equipment  was  reduced  by  about 
507..  (It  is  also  worth  noting  that  after  the  invasion,  the 
ability  of  Iranian  technicians  and  maintenance  personnel  to 
repair  and  rebuild  equipment,  especially  aircraft,  was 
"miraculous" .  This  can  be  attributed  to  the  commitment  of 
the  support  force,  although  it  may  also  be  a  testament  to 
the  courage  of  the  pilots  who  flew  the  aircraft.  In  any 
case,  the  it  is  a  reflection  of  the  cohesion,  morale, 
dedication,  in  short,  the  Fighting  Power  of  the  Armed 
forces,  that  allowed  it  to  occur.) 

The  erosion  of  materiel  readiness  after  the  revolution 
has  appl i cabi 1 i ty  to  Van  Creveld’s  formulation.  If  Fighting 
Power  remained  constant,  then  the  Military  Worth  of  the 
Iranian  army  would  have  eroded  propor t iona 1 ly .  However,  as 
we  saw  in  Chapter  Three,  the  Iranian  Armed  forces  were  able 

and  the  wartime  Islamic  revolutionary  army>  I  have  relied  on 

the  combat  performance  of  the  army  to  be  the  final  indicator 

difficult  to  imagine  a  harder  mission 

rebellions  in  the  years  before  the  revolution!  the  reports 

■*»  Ay 

of  rebellion  ceased  and  did  not  reoccur. 

The  New  Military  Leader 

Among  the  most  important  results  of  the  Revolution,  as 

demonstrated  in  the  Iran-Iraq  war  is  the  new  Iranian 

military  leader.  Repeated  purges  have  purified  the  officer 

corps,  assuring  committment,  largely  apolitical,  to  the 

Iranian  Islamic  republic.  Officers  in  key  positions  in  the 

military  have  repeatedly  proven  their  loyalty  by  Islamic 

credentials  and  their  service  to  the  government.  In 

addition,  the  crucible  of  the  revolution  and  the  war  have 

assured  that  the  successful  commanders  who  passed  the  acid 

tests  of  ideology  and  loyalty  have  been  advanced.  The 

process  is  still  ongoing.  These  officers  are  unhesitant, 

clear  headed  combat  commanders  of  powerful  courage  and 

commitment.  They  are  also  ambitious;  and  their  future  is 

tied  to  the  future  of  the  revolut i on . ^ ' 

Two  specific  examples  are  in  order.  The  first  is  the 

Chairman  of  the  Joint  Chiefs  of  Staff,  Colonel  Isamel 

Sohrabi,  (there  appear  to  be  no  more  promotions  to  General 

in  the  Iranian  army).  Colonel  Sohrabi  became  known  as  the 

’Butcher  of  Kurdsitan"  during  the  uprising  in  1979-80  for 

his  brutal  suppression;  he  also  proved  capable  of  doing 

quickly  and  effectively  whatever  the  government  asked  him  to 

do.  The  second  is  Colonel  Sayyad  Shirazi,  Commander  of 

Ground  Forces,  who  is  now  running  the  war  with  Iraq.  As  an 
army  Captain,  he  was  recognized  as  a  particularly  bloody 
minded  and  ruthless  artillery  commander.  His  rapid 
promotion,  and  the  operational  performance  of  the  Iranian 
army  is  a  testament  to  his  skill  as  a  military  professional , 
the  revolution  that  gave  him  the  opportunity,  and  the 


revolutionized  Iranian  army.^ 

In  the  final  analysis,  the  major  impact  of  the 
revolution  was  the  change  is  the  Iranian  soldier,  regular 
and  Pasdaran,  Baseej  volunteer  to  Chief  of  Staff.  It  was 
fundamental  and  enduring,  regardless  of  future  events.  After 
si>:  years  of  the  most  brutal,  grinding,  combat  since  the 
World  War  I,  there  is  no  shortage  of  volunteers,  no  question 
of  retreat,  no  loss  of  initiative,  no  drop  in  committment, 
no  search  for  compromise  or  negotiation.  There  is  instead  an 
eagerness  to  destroy  the  enemy  and  advance  the  revolution 
undimmed  after  si;:  years  of  the  hardest  fighting  imaginable. 
In  the  words  of  an  American  analyst  in  the  Department  of 

"All  the  FlA’s  and  the  M-60’s  purchased  by  the  Shah  have  not 
had  one  tenth  the  impact  on  the  war  that  the  tens  of 
thousands  of  illiterate  young  Iranian  peasants  have. 

Spending  money  on  the  machinery  of  war--the  focus  of  so  much 
effort  and  debate  in  the  West — remains  secondary;  the 
central  issue  is  the  willingness  of  the  troops  to  fight, 

Their  belief  in  their  cause,  and  their  confidence  in  their 



1.  William  F.  Hickman,  Ravaged  and  Reborn,  p. 

2.  Ibid. ,  p.  16. 

3.  Shaul  Bakhash,  The  Reign  of  the  Ayatollahs 
and  the  Islamic  Revolution,  p.  49. 

4.  Ibid.,  p.  50. 

5.  Ibid. ,  p.  51  . 

6.  William  F.  Hickman,  Ravaged  and  Reborn,  p.  7. 

7.  Mohammed  Heikal,  Irani  the  Untold  Story,  (New 
Yorks  Pantheon  Books.  1992.),  pp.  145-146. 

9.  Interview  with  MAJ  Mark  Boyer,  U.S.  Army.  Cited 
Officer  provided  security  for  Teheran  Airport  the  day  the  Sh 
left  and  for  several  days  thereafter. 

9.  William  F.  Hickman,  Ravaged  and  Reborn,  p.  9. 

10.  Ibid.,  p.  9. 

11.  Nader  Entessar,  "Military  and  Politics  in  the 
Islamic  Republic  of  Iran."  p.  9. 

12.  Ibid.,  p.  10.,  and  Hickman,  p.  11. 

13.  Nader  Entessar,  "Military  and  Politics  in  the 
Islamic  Republic  of  Iran. "  p.  10. 

14.  William  F.  Hickman,  Ravaged  and  Reborn,  p.  11. 

15.  Ibid.,  p.  12. 

16 .  Ibid. 

17.  Extract  of  the  Constitution  of  the  Islamic 
Republic  of  Iran,  as  published  in  Nader  Entessar,  "Military 
and  Politics  in  the  Islamic  Republic  of  Iran, "  p.  15. 

19.  William  F.  Hickman,  Ravaged  and  Reborn,  p.  12. 

19.  Nader  Entessar,  "Military  and  Politics  in  the 
Islamic  Republic  of  Iran,"  p.  14. 

20.  William  F.  Hickman,  Ravaged  and  Reborn,  p.  14. 

Chapter  Five 


" Paren thet i cal  1 y i  it  should  be  noted  that  the  seeds  of 
wisdom  that  are  to  bear  fruit  in  the  intellect  are  sown 
by  critical  studies  and  learned  monographs  than  by  insi 
broad  impressions  and  flashes  of  intuition." 

Carl  '-'on  Clausewitc 

I.  Introduction. 

This  final  section  of  the  thesis  is  intended  to  review 
the  major  conclusions  of  the  first  four  chapters,  their 
regional  implications,  and  their  long  term  effects. 

II.  Major  Conclusions. 

The  thesis  has  three  logical  steps  leading  to  the 
eventual  conclusion.  First,  the  Imperial  Iranian  Armed 
Forces  were  fundamentally  flawed.  From  its  inception  under 
P e:a  Shah,  the  people,  army,  government  trinity  had  fatal 
cracks.  Mu hammed  Reza  Pahlavi,  attemptin  to  build  on  the 
same  foundation,  increased  the  pressure  on  the  people,  army, 
government  trinity,  resulting  in  a  collapse.  The  weaknesses 
of  this  trinity  was  demonstrated  by  the  patent  inability  of 
the  army  to  defeat  the  revolution  in  spite,  or  even  because 
of,  the  lavish  augmentation  of  equipment. 

Seoond,  the  Islamic  Iranian  army,  proved  to  have 
considerable  power  and  resilience  in  the  Iran-Iraq  War. 
Surprised  by  a  powerful  invader,  hampered  by  desertion, 
eroding  equipment,  and  unreliable  logistics,  the  Iranian 
Armed  Forces  resisted  the  attack:  and  went  on  the  offensive. 
Actions  were  char ac ter i zed  by  unusual  courage  and  fighting 
power,  excellent  staff  work,  and  operational  level  planning. 

Third,  the  change  in  the  Armed  Forces  was  caused  by  a 

fundamental  bonding  of  the  people,  army,  government  trinity, 
uihich  in  turn  was  a  result  of  the  Iranian  revolution.  The 
strong  bond  between  Khomeini  and  the  people,  and  the  new 
army  legitimacy  and  ethic,  had  a  multiplicative  effect  on 
the  military  capability  of  the  army.  The  result  was  an  army 
with  remarkable  resilience,  flexibility,  and  potential  for 
growt  h . 

Khomeini  purged  but  also  restructured  the  army  and 
shaped  it  to  fit  a  revolutionary  Islamic  model.  The  army  was 
given  two  distinct  missions;  safeguarding  Iran’s  frontiers! 
and  extending  the  domain  of  Allah.  Formed  in  the  revolution 
and  forged  on  the  battlefield,  the  army  developed  a  new 
legitimacy  and  professional  ethic,  outside  of  personal 
loyalties  and  political  involvement,  but  founded  in  duty  to 
Allah  and  the  defense  of  Iran.  The  army  became  in  law  and  in 
fact  the  genuine  defender  of  the  people  and  servant  of  the 
gover nmen  t . 

The  Iranian  army  is  not  only  stronger  and  more 
resilient  than  it  predecessor s ,  it  is  arguably  more?  powerful 
than  its  Persian  Gulf  neighbors.  It  has  beaten  back  a 
determined  and  well  equipped  invader  and  has  has  since 
carried  the  war  into  Iraqi  territory  over  strong  enemy 
opposition,  without  a  reliable  ally  or  logistical  support, 
and  with  very  limited  air  power  or  high-technology  assets. 

This  occurred  while  the  quality  and  quantity  of  Iran’s 
equipment  was  eroding.  Iran  did  so  when  Iraq  had  both 

monetary  and  manpower  support  from  the  other  Arab  nations, 
overwhelming  air  superiority,  and  reliable  logistical 
support.  Iran  was  able  to  do  so  because  the  army  was 
fundamental ly  strengthend  by  the  Islamic  revolution 

After  si::  years  of  the  most  brutal  warfare  since  World 
War  I,  Iran  shows  no  sign  of  flagging  in  its  resolve,  and 
continues  to  prosecute  the  war.  Iran  gained  the  initiative 
and  has  not  relinquished  it  since  the  the  first  months  of 
the  war.  It  has,  in  fact,  just  recently  renewed  the 
offensive.  In  the  early  months  of  19S6,  Iran  successfully 
attacked  in  two  areas;  the  str ateg i ca 1 1 y  vital  A1  Faw 
peninsula,  and  in  Kurdestan.  At  the  time  of  this  writing 
(April,  1986),  the  front  has  again  stabilized,  apparently  at 
Iran’s  choice,  since  Iraq  appears  unable  to  make  any 
substantial  reduction  in  the  Iranian  gains. 

III.  Regional  Impact  of  the  War. 

The  war  has  had  a  long  term  stabilizing  effect  on  the 
region.  As  a  direct  result  of  the  Islamic  revolution  and  the 
Iran-Iraq  War,  the  Persian  Gulf  was  moved  to  the  forefront 
of  U.S.  strategic  interests.  It  has  generated  the  Carter 
doctrine,  which  identifies  the  area  as  a  vital  to  U.S. 
interests,  and  two  Joint  Commands  to  respond  to  crises;  US 
Central  Command  and  US  Readiness  Command.  The  U.S.  strategic 
interest,  commitment  and  capability,  makes  all  nations 

concerned  with  the  region  more  cautious*  thereby  stabilizing 

the  region. 

Additionally,  the  war  has  also  accelerated  the 
development  of  regional  collective  security,  thereby 
stabilizing  the  Gulf  internally.  Through  the  Gulf 
Cooperation  Council  (begun  in  response  to  the  war  and  to 
fears  of  the  destabilizing  effect  of  the  Islamic 
revolution),  the  nations  of  the  Gulf  have  now  conducted 
joint  defense  exercises  and  other  collective  security 
actions.  They  have  the  apparent  intent  of  countering  Iran, 
and  keeping  the  Superpowers  out  of  the  Gulf.  These 
developments  would  not  have  occurred  without  the  Iran-Iran 
war  as  a  unifying  focus. 

Finally,  it  has  also  caused  a  diffusion  of  the  oil 
outlets  in  the  region,  reducing  the  vulnerablity  of  the 
Gulf’s  oil  LOC’s  to  interdiction.  The  war  has  caused  Iraq, 
Iran,  Saudi  Arabia,  and  Turkey,  to  build  new  oil  pipelines 
from  the  oil  fields  to  ports  on  the  Medi teranean ,  the  Red 
Sea,  and  below  the  Straits  of  Hormuz;  all  outside  the  Gulf. 
It  has  also  made  defense  of  the  oil  ports  inside  the  Gulf  of 
vital  importance  in  the  planning  new  facilities  and  the 
defense  and  restructuring  old  ones.  This  construction  is 
difficult  and  expensive  at  a  time  when  oil  revenues  are 
falling,  and  would  not  have  taken  place  without  the  manifest 

This  is  likely  to  have  a  long  term 


threat  of  war. 

stabilizing  effect  on  the  export  of  oil  from  the  region;  far 
more  than  would  have  occurred  without  the  war. 

On  the  other  hand,  the  end  of  the  war  will  likely 
destabilize  the  region.  When  the  war  ends,  the  Iranian  Army, 
which  is  committed  to  the  extension  of  the  revolution, 
trained  in  battle,  and  supported  by  a  largely  unencumbered 
policy  of  state  terrorism,  will  be  free  to  meddle  wherever 
it  chooses.  As  was  noted,  Khomeini  can  carry  a  grudge  a  long 
time,  and  is  unlikely  to  forget  that  the  Persian  Gulf 
nations,  without  exception,  supported  Iraq.  Should  the  war 
end  without  a  change  in  Iranian  policies,  the  Iranian  Armed 
Forces,  ideologically  committed  and  hardened  to  war,  could 
have  a  destabilizing  effect  on  the  Persian  Gulf,  Lebanon, 
and  in  other  areas  of  Iranian  interest. 

To  this  must  be  added  the  influence  of  Iranian  threats 
and  the  perception  of  power  outside  of  direct  military 
action.  The  Gulf  nations  have  learned  Iran  is  an  implacable, 
determined  enemy.  Post  war  Iranian  threats  will  have 
tremendous  credibility,  and  resultant  influence  on  the  Gulf 

IV.  Post  War  Iranian  Army 

The  present  Iranian  military  capability  is  matched  by 
its  potential  for  military  power  growth.  It  has  the  national 
will,  the  motive,  the  opportunity,  and  the  capability,  to 
become  the  dominant  regional  power  in  a  globally  vital  area. 

Iranian  national  will*  demonstrated  by  its 
intransigence  and  iron  resolve  in  the  face  of  enormous 
di f f i cul t i es *  is  documented  by  its  wartime  performance  over 
the  last  si;:  years.  It  has  genuine*  credible  motives  to 
exercise  its  military  powers  retribution  for  support  of  Irag 
during  the  war  and  constitutionally  mandated  "doctrinal 
jihad"  to  extend  the  Islamic  revolution.  Opportunity  is 
evident  in  Iran’s  proximity  to  the  monarchial  and  autocratic 
governments  of  the  Gulf.  These  governments  are  vulnerable  to 
insurgency  and  terrorism,  particularly  assassination. 

Iran’s  potential  military  capability  has  three 
elements?  fighting  power,  revenue  base,  and  militarily 
significant  demographics.  The  fighting  power  of  the  Iranian 
Army  is  well  documented  and  the  potential  for  military  power 
growth  is  evident.  If  it  developed  a  sound  logistical  base, 
or  was  confident  of  reliable  logistical  support,  it  could 
have  unparalleled  power  in  the  region. 

Iran  also  has  a  reliable  revenue  base  in  its  petroleum 
production.  As  was  noted,  it  was  able  to  increase  its 
wartime  oil  production  to  the  OPEC  ceiling,  in  spite  of 
Iraqi  actions.  Freed  from  wartime  costs  and  interruptions, 
Iran’s  revenue  base,  purchasing  ability  and  legitimate 
financial  power  will  increase. 

It  also  has  a  large  and  growing  military  male  age 
population.  As  noted  in  earlier  tables,  it  has  a  population 
of  approximately  45  million,  of  which  roughly  21  million  are 

males  between  15  and  25.  Iran’s  population  grows  at  about  3V. 
annually.  Put  another  way,  600,000  military  age  males  are 
added  every  year.  More  than  2  million  males  had  military 
combat  experience  by  the  end  of  1994.  This  was  almost  three 
times  all  the  other  Gulf  nations  put  together.  Only  500,000 
of  these  had  combat  experience,  mostly  Iraqis.  In  addition, 

Iran’s  literacy  rate  of  50M  is  the  highest  in  the  Gulf,  next 
to  Kuwait.  (Figures  not  listed  in  Tables  3.  1,3.2,  ans  4.1 
are  from  The  In ternat i ona 1  Institute  for  Strategic  Studies, 


V.  U.S.  Long  Term  Strategies. 

U.S.  long  term  interests  are  straight  forward: 
stabilize  the  oil  production,  re-establish  the  continental 
containment  of  the  Soviet  Union  and  counter  state  terrorism. 

However,  strategic  goals,  no  matter  how  simply  stated,  do 
not  make  up  a  strategy.  The  U.S.  can  take  four  steps  to 
achieve  these  long  term  strategic  goals. 

The  initial  step  would  be  to  support  the  Gulf 
Cooperation  Council  <GCC).  This  collective  security 
organizaton  has  the  potential  of  balancing  the  power  of  a 
resurgent  Iran,  as  well  as  Soviet  regional  adventurism. 

Since  one  of  the  motivations  for  the  development  of  the  GCC 
is  to  keep  the  Superpowers  out  of  the  Gulf,  this  policy  must 
not  appear  to  foster  greater  U.S.  presence  in  the  Gulf. 

With  this  in  mind  we  should  encourage  the  GCC’s 


eventual  expansion  to  include  Pakistan  and  Iraq. 

At  some 

future  time  it  will  also  be  in  Iran’s  interest  to  join,  in 
opposition  to  Soviet  expansionism.  (This  is  not  without 
precedent;  mutual  enemies  have  often  joined  in  a  coalition 
in  defense  against  a  common  threat.) 

Next  step  is  to  encourage  the  GCC  to  adopt  a 
strong  Counter-terror i st  policy  and  capabilty.  This  is 
certainly  in  their  best  interest  as  well  as  ours,  counters 
the  primary  Iranian  potential  threat,  and  would  enhance  GCC 
and  Arab  credibility  and  legitimacy. 

Third,  is  to  maintain  a  non-aligned  Iran.  Russia  is 
Iran’s  traditional  enemy,  and  so  long  as  Iran  maintains  an 
independent  foreign  policy,  she  acts  as  a  bulwark  to  Soviet 
southward  expansion.  Also,  should  the  Gulf  prove  relatively 
resistant  to  Iranian  influence,  Iran  may  turn  its  military 
capability  toward  the  more  obvious  danger  to  Islam  and  Iran; 
the  Soviet  occupation  anbd  oppression  of  Afghanistan. 

Finally,  it  is  advisable  to  conclude  a  defense  treaty 
with  Iran  in  the  event  she  is  attacked  by  the  Soviet  Union. 
Such  a  treaty  could  contain  any  restrictions  Iran  chooses  to 
impose,  so  long  as  she  would  accept  U.S.  logistical  support 
in  the  event  of  aggression  by  the  Soviet  Union. 

This  would  exploit  the  real  Iranian  military  potential 
to  our  mutual  advantage  without  endangering  the  region.  It 
would  also  buttress  the  region  against  Soviet  expansion, 
provide  the  US  with  a  small  degree  of  influence  over  Iranian 
policy,  and  allow  more  normal  relations  at  a  later  date. 

This  is  also  not  without  precedent,  although  given  the 

animosity  of  the  people  of  Iran  to  the  U.S.,  such  an 
agreement  would  have  to  be  covert.  However,  given  that  Iran 
bought  arms  from  Israel,  its  sworn  enemy,  Iran  will  likely 
adopt  a  more  pragmatic  approach  to  its  defense  when  faced 
with  a  Soviet  threat. 

It  is  also  worth  noting  that  Iran’s  potential  could  as 
easily  be  turned  to  the  Soviet  Union’s  advantage,  as  to  the 
advantage  of  the  U.S.  It  is  in  our  interest  to  coopt  Iran, 
or  keep  it  neutral,  if  only  to  prevent  the  region  from 
falling  under  Soviet  influence. 

VI.  Summary. 

The  Iranian  army  is  a  potent  military  force  with  the 
potential  for  considerable  growth  in  real  power.  It  was 
formed  in  a  revolution  which  has  a  significance  we  are  just 
begining  to  understand.  The  army  has  directly  and  indirectly 
altered  the  regional  and  strategic  balance  of  power  in  the 
Persian  Gulf  and  has  the  potential  for  even  greater 
influence.  The  war  takes  place  in  an  area  of  vital  natural 
resources,  volatility,  and  strategic  importance  to  the  U.S. 
and  the  Soviet  Union.  The  war,  the  Iranian  army,  and  the 
revolution,  deserve  greater  study. 


Persian  Gulf  Area 

v  *"*ara 


U.S.S.R.  w,, 




Wlco**j  Latah** 

Cyprus  * 


Lebanon  Ji 

->  iiV4*" 

•  *  iOCCUB.^j  \ 

Tml  Aviyy \ 
afro  \  /j?rrtan\ 

***  s*ay*h 

Mosul  •trb*4 


Baghdad  * 


.  *Hamadan  *Qom  G-SH  ■  t 

L_  Bandar* 

I  Shahpur 

Ai  Basra**  ^  * 

Umm  Qajf^^Apadan 

"■  /Kuwait 

*  Kuwait 

l  ran 



Bahrain  h  i 

Oh*hr*n^  *  Manama  u«"  •*  Q*r*m'n  >  t  Ba*»M 

A,m*nyf  N  \r#  4  »i  Khaymah  •  Onal*1 

*iHuh.<*  *0oh» 

Qatar  <r 

X.  AbU  Dhabi  A  ^  0gnym< 

United  ^,a 

Saudi  Arabia 



\K?  -\S 

^  , 


»  >  * 

\  Saiiiah 



(Sana)  [m 

■  International  boundary 

★  Capital 




100  200  K  ujmetP's 

100  200  M.ibs 

"''’Hs'  i|y'~-Jtfn''i’rT,shah' . 

A;  iubaitf  ^^SfAbadan  Bandar  e  SMhour 

IRAQ  fi 


**./  KUWAIT  ^Vuwait 

^  1\ai  AHmadi 

KlferJn  ShM* 

*■  National  capital 
*  Administrative  seat 

of  Sbaykhdom 

-  Road 

- Track  or  trail 



Bandar  Abbas. 

\  n.  f\Ras  Tanura 

\  Al  Qam^v 





Jaz  -eh-ve 

Tunbs  Admin 

line  \  | 

Abu  \ 

Mus4  RA  s  AL  lOMANl 
Sirri  KHAYMAH,.  I 

S  A  U  D 

iV  Al  Hawar 


Al  Khawr  HSIul 

Dukhan  |  Qatar  \  D0HA 

»..  Dayyinah 

Musay  id  Az  Zarqa 


Dalma’  ABU  DHABI 

$ir  Bam 

Ya-S  Muqayshit 


AJMA  N/  .. 


Sir  Abu  tIUBAYY 

Na  avf  / 

, "  y> 


\ _ A I  Bur.l.mi 

0  N  i  r  E  o 

/  ( 


\  I 

\  1 

\  I 

\  / 

\  Al 

30 u n d a i>  'PO'PSenttlliOO  s 

■'riT  "Pi  1‘Ssil  '*  v** 

Base  502R30  4-76 

X  \  s  "  •' 


X^TCTR^  k  e  y 

Diyarbakir  #Batman 

"^5W-,^nainis»H>  \  Zakhu 

^  '«,  '  •  <  _ 

•  -  ■) 


^Reta  iyfh 

X  1  Miandoab 


Dayr  u  Zawh 


'"'X  -v.^-  j  ' 

tail  Hvjqnat^  v  is  S'  , 

-XX  ,  ^  c  l 

s,n|>'  Mosul*  \  X  ^  Dmh 

ts/lr  K  - 
■- :  ■' A  ‘v  A/  i>  ^  .wr  ••• 

/  v/  t-  K  .-  ^ 

V  ;<  "v  '..—-/Vs 

f  i!  '•'•'* 

.  -r  ^  — t  AjsSuiavmaniyah 

\  ,  ^  Kjrkulu~  !- - -. 

'  ;  -  I 

l  X  ^  5  >. 

^  \  ^  ^  /  1 

Y'  T,i„r#  ^  j  s'  ^ 

.  :.  ’ .  f  \  Kermanjhan^,. 

'  «  Samana  #  Khanaqm  ^x  ” 

\  x  /;  •  •■ 


Al  MaditfcjiT 


mi  «u i min 

\  'i'&T  . 

.  ,  »  .  -  Af  x  — Z'  •  /  '''^Windaii  ~- 

~  ~  flamad.  Al  l 

w^agtmd  V 

_ _ _ — - - Al  Habbamyah'~7'^'>'~'-^'~i  L-  s 

Af  Rutbah  v  Y  /.  3  "  "v**  ^  ' 

"  -  ; 

J  . . ,““K  . . V  -v'XX 

AUCna.xiil  ^  Al  Ku'  > 

/~y  A.  y  v  .AIH'* 

\  X  X  *>  Ad  DiW»m)*t»  ^ 

N  V  '  i>  Y _ _ _ ) 

*  a  3  A  -  ■*  -r^(  ,  X,  lm„i 

/  ;  1  1  •.•■■• 
/  ^"Tx/  x  i  ■■  ..■.A 

)  AySama«yah  -  ^  v  An  Nas<>WaM 

*  A*  '  \  a.  J  J 


Khoffamaoad  # 

^  *  Oe/fut 

ai  oasran 

— —  *  A  KbOffarrj^ 

''"r  A;  /dbair  ^  \m."  ' 

.  ,  „  Abadan 
'  Umm  - 


international  Dounriary 
_  -  Province  imurtala*at>  boundary 

★  National  capital 

.?  Province  imuhata/at)  capital 

- -  Railroad 

A  L  M  U  T  H  A  N  N  A 

P*Q  -  SAUD.  ARA0IA 


^  Kuwait 

SAUDI  A  R  A  BlY 



Abrahamiani  Ervand.  Iran  Between  Two  Revolutions.  Frinceton, 
New  Jersey;  Princeton  University  Press*  1932. 

Am  i  rsadegh  i  *  Hossein.  Twentieth  Century  Iran.  Heu)  Yorks 
Holmes  and  Meieri  1978. 

B  a  k  h  a  s  h »  S h a u 1 .  The  Reign  of  the  Ayatollahs!  Iran  and  the 
Islamic  Revolution.  Hew  York:  Basic  Books*  1984. 

Br inton*  Crane.  The  Anatomy  of  Rg\ glut  ion . New  York:  Vintage 
House,  1933. 

C h amr a n ,  Mu s t a f a .  The  Islamic  Resolution  and  the  Imposed 

War.  Translated  and  edited  by  the  Ministry  of  Islamic 
Guidance.  Teheran:  Council  for  the  Celebrations  of  the 
Third  Anniversary  of  the  Victory  of  the  Islamic 
Revolution,  1982. 

Churchill,  Winston  Spencer.  The  Grand  Alliance.  Boston: 
Houghton  Mifflin  Company,  1°50. 

Cor desman,  Anthony  H.  The  Gulf  and  the  Search  for  Strategic 
Stability:  Saudi  Arabia,  the  Military  Balance  in  the 
Gulf,  and  the  Trends  in  the  Arab-Israeli  Military 
Balance.  Boulder,  Colorado:  Wes tv i ew  Press,  1934. 

Grummon,  Stephen  P.  The  I  ran- 1  rag  War:  Islam  Embattled. 

Washington,  D.C.:  Georgetown  University  Center  for 
Strategic  Studies  and  Praeger  Publishers,  1952. 

Heikal,  Mohammed.  Iran:  The  Untold  Story.  New  York:  Pantheon 
Books,  1982. 

Hickman,  William  F.  Ravaged  and  Reborn:  The  Iranian  Army, 

1 982 .  Brookings  Institute,  1982. 

Ismael,  Tareg  v.  Iran  and  Iran:  Roots  of  Conflict,  Syracuse, 
New  York:  Syracuse  University  Press,  1950. 

heddie,  Nikki  R.  Roots  of  Revolution:  An  Interpretive 

History  of  Modern  Iran.  New  Haven,  Connecticut:  Yale 
University  Press,  1°31. 

Keddie,  Nikki  P.  Peligion  and  Politics  in  Iran. 

Yale  University  Press,  1983. 

New  Haven 

The  Iranian 

Keddie,  Nikki  and  Hogland,  Eric.,  eds.  , 

Revolution  and  the  Islamic  Republic.  The  Woodrow  Wilson 
Internat ional  Center  for  Scholars,  1982. 

Khaddur i ,  Ma,j  i d .  The  Development  of  Imami  Sni’i  Doctrine. 
Baltimore,  Maryland!  The  John  Hopkins  Press,  1955. 

Khomeini,  Imam  Khomeini’s  Messages  for  Black  Friday. 

Teheran:  Council  for  the  Celebrations  of  the  Third 
Anniversary  of  the  Victory  of  the  Islamic  Revolution, 

K h ome ini,  Imam  Khomeini’s  Views  on  Ethics  and 

Spiritualities.  Council  for  the  Celebrations  of  the 
Third  Anniversary  of  the  Victory  of  the  Islamic 
Revolution.  Teheran,  1982 

Leege,  David  and  Francis,  Wayne  L.  Political  Research, 
Design,  Measurement  and  Analysis,  1974. 

O’Donnell,  Terence.  Garden  of  the  Brave  in  War.  New  York: 
Ticknor  and  Fields,  1980. 

Pah  1 avi , Mohammed  Reza,  Answer  to  History.  New  York:  Stein 
and  Day,  19S1. 

Pahlavi,  Mohammed  Peza,  Mission  for  my  Country.  New  York: 
McGraw  Hill,  1962. 

Slim,  Sir  William.  Defeat  into  Victory.  New  York:  David 
Mckay ,  Inc. ,  1961 . 

Van  Creveld,  Martin.  Fighting  Power:  German  Military 
Performance.  Washington.  D.C.:  Office  of  New 
Assessement,  Department  of  Defense,  1980. 

Von  Clausewitz,  Carl.  On  War.  Translated  and  edited  by 

Michael  Howard  and  Peter  Paret,  Princeton,  New  Jersey: 
Princeton  University  Press,  1984. 

Zoka,  Yahya.  The  Imperial  Iranian  Army  from  Cyrus  to 

Pah  1 av i .  Tehran,  Iran:  Ministry  of  Culture  and  Arts 
Press,  1971. 

TT’W  *>'  *  V  «V  WW*V  «  V  TU 1  U  «  W  Hi  m  !.%'  ?T  '.■!  '.V  ^^7  T 

'.■  '.•  <T  - .’  'J'-vt  ■*■ 


Clifton,  Tony.  ”  ’  I  am  Fighting  for  Iran — And  for  Islam’.", 
Newsweek,  March  10,  1983. 

Cottrell,  Alvin  J.  "Iran’s  Armed  Forces  under  the  Pahlavi 
Dynasty.'1,  Lenczowski,  George,  ed.  ,  Iran  Under  the 
Pah  lav  is,  1978 

Cordesman,  Anthony  H.  "Lessons  in  the  Iran-Iraq  War:  the 
First  Round.”,  Armed  Forces  Journal.,  April,  1932. 

Cordesman,  Anthony  H.  "Lessons  in  the  Iran-Iraq  War:  Part 

Tujo:  Tactics,  Technology,  and  Training.”,  Armed  Forces 
Journal , ,  June,  1932. 

Dyer,  Gwynne  and  Keegan,  John.  "Iran.",  World  Armies.,  1980 

Esposito,  John  L.  "Islam  in  Politics  in  the  Middle  East.", 
Current  History.,  February,  1986. 

Economist,  The.  November  1973,  February  19S1,  March  1986, 

and  April,  198,6.  The  Economist  proved  very  useful  for  a 
comparison  of  immediate  views  of  wartime  actions,  and 
for  it  subsequent  analysis.  I  found  that  in  most  cases 
its  long  term  projections  were  quite  good,  although 
the  distaste  for  the  government  of  Iran  was  also 
ev i dent . 

"I  ran /Iraq  War.",  US  Department  of  State  Bulletin.  Vol.  85, 
Number  2105,  December,  1985. 

"Iran-Iraq  War.",  Strategic  Studies.  Quarterly  Journal  of 

the  Institute  of  Strategic  Studies,  Islamabad,  Vol.  IX, 
Number  1,  Autumn,  1985. 

Jansen,  Godfrey  H.  "Dawn  Eight  Shakes  the  Gulf.’’,  Middle 
East  Internat ional .  21  February,  1986. 

Kazemi,  Farhad.  "The  Military  and  Politics  in  Iran:  The 

Uneasy  Symbiosis.",  Kedourie,  Elie  and  Haim,  Sylvia  G. 
ed. ,  Towards  a  Modern  Iran:  Studies  in  Thought, 
Politics,  and  Society.  , 1980. 

Keddie,  Nikki  R.  "Iranian  Revolutions  in  Comparative 

Perspective.",  American  Historical  Review.  Vol  89, 

Olson,  William  J.  "The  Iran-Iraq  War  and  the  Future  of  the 
Persian  Gulf.",  Bloom,  John  D.  ed. ,  Military  Review. 

Ft.  Leavenworth,  Kansas!  US  Command  and  General  Staff 
College,  March,  1984. 

Rubin,  Earry.  "Middle  East!  Search  for  Peace."  Foreign 
Affairs. ,  February,  1935. 

Rubinstein,  Alvin  Z.  "Perspectives  on  the  Iran-Iraq  War.", 
Orbis. ,  Fall  1935. 

St audenma i er ,  William  0.  "A  Strategic  Analysis.",  Tahir  - 
Kheli,  Shir  in  and  Ayubi,  Shaheen,  eds. ,  The  Iran-Iraq 
War!  Mew  Weapons,  Old  Conflicts. ,  New  York!  Praeger 
Publishers,  1983. 

"The  Middle  East  and  the  Gulf.",  Strategic  Survey! 

1°79— 19SQ. ,  London!  In ternat i ona 1  Institute  for 
Strategic  Studies,  1980.  Subsequent  II3S  issues  through 
1985  were  also  used. 

Vought,  Donald.  "Iran.",  Gabriel,  Richard,  ed. ,  F i g  h  t i n  r 
Armies!  Antagonists  in  the  Middle  East!  A  Combat 
Assessmen t .  London!  Greenwood  Press,  1983. 



Entessar,  Nader.  "Military  and  Politics  in  the  Islamic  Republic 
of  Iran.",  Department  of  Political  Science,  Spring  Hill 
College,  Mobile,  Alabama.  Paper  prepared  for  presentation  at 
the  19th  Annual  Meeting  of  the  Middle  East  Studies 
Association,  New  Orleans,  Louisiana,  November  22-26,  19S5. 

22-26,  19S5. 

Smith,  John  M.  "Where  was  the  Shah’s  Army?",  Thesis  prepared  for 
the  US  Command  and  General  Staff  College,  Ft.  Leavenworth, 
Kansas,  1974. 


Available  classified  publications  were  reviewed.  As  it  was  not 
necessary  to  extract  material  nor  footnote  these  publications, 
they  are  not  listed.  Classified  references  are  available  from  the 
author . 


1.  Combined  Arms  Research  Library 

U.S.  Army  Command  and  General  Staff  College 
Fort  Leavenworth,  Kansas  66027 

Defense  Technical  Institute  Information  Center 
Cameron  Station 
Alexandria,  Virginia  22314 

3.  Dr.  George  W.  Gawrych 

Combat  Studies  Institute 

Fort  Leavenworth,  Kansas  66027-6900 

4.  Dr.  Bobby  L.  Childress 

Department  of  Joint  and  Combined  Operations 

Fort  Leavenworth,  Kansas  66027-6900 

5.  MAJ  Fred  Downey 

Department  of  Joint  and  Combined  Operations 

Fort  Leavenworth,  Kansas  66027-6900 


6.  COL  Richard  Sinnreich 

School  of  Advanced  Military  Studies 

Fort  Leavenworth,  Kansas  66027-6900 

7.  LTC  William  Randall 

Center  for  Army  Leadership 

Fort  Leavenworth,  Kansas  66027-6900 

8.  MAJ  Richard  Joslyn 

Department  of  Tactics 

Fort  Leavenworth,  Kansas  66027-6900 



COL  William  Taylor,  Ret. 

Director,  Center  for  Strategic  and  Internat ional  Studies 
1800  K  Street 
Washington,  D.C.  20001 

COL  William  0.  Staudenmaier 

U.S.  Army  War  College 

Carlisle  Barracks,  Pennsy lvannia 


Professor  Nader  Entessar 
Department  of  Political  Science 
Spring  Hill  College,  Mobile  Alabama